Growing soybeans in 10-inch rows may not seem significant. Many no-till drills placed soybeans in 7.5- to 10-inch rows when they first came on the market three decades ago. But data that Jason Gahimer turned up while looking at different row widths with a planter that can plant multiple row widths indicates planting soybeans in 10-inch rows with planter units could bump up yields significantly, even compared to soybeans planted in typical 15-inch rows with a split-row planter.
“We’ve looked at soybeans planted with a planter in 10-inch, 15-inch, 20-inch and 30-inch rows over three years, and the 10-inch row soybeans planted with a planter win every time on yield,” says Gahimer, research manager at Beck’s Practical Farm. “It’s rare for a practice to win every single time in anything where we make comparisons.”
In a two-year study at the Indiana PFR site near Atlanta, soybeans in 10-inch rows planted at 100,000 seeds per acre netted more return after removing seed cost than any other combination. Net return at 100,000 seeds per acre planted for 10-, 15-, 20- and 30-inch rows were $677, $640, $533 and $539, respectively. For 125,000 seeds per acre, net returns in the 10-, 15-, 20- and 30-inch rows were $672, $632, $520 and $530, respectively. For 150,000, it was $672, $628, $527 and $529, respectively.
“There seems to be an advantage for singulating soybeans in 10-inch rows with a planter,” Gahimer says. “You can pull a plant from the 10-inch rows and the 30-inch rows, and there is no comparison — the plant from the 10-inch rows will be bigger.”
Gahimer realizes it may take out-of-the-box thinking to rig up a planter for 10-inch rows. “If you can build a 10-inch row soybean planter, our data says it would really pay,” he concludes.