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Does Your Planter Need Row Cleaners?

Does Your Planter Need Row Cleaners?

Absolute must if you plant into stalks, after wheat.

Bob Brewington farms near Versailles. He's no-tilled for nearly two decades now, growing corn and soybeans on gray flat, Clermont slash soil and Avonburg soil on slopes. His planter is equipped with a coulter running in front of each row. Due to his planter design, he doesn't have room for no-till row cleaners. He wanted to hear Barry Fisher's answer to whether or not he should figure out how to add row cleaners to his planter. Fisher is the state resource agronomist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Knowing Brewington's farm and that he had successfully planted no-till for so many years in rotation with corn and soybeans, Fisher concluded that he likely wouldn't see a big bump in stand consistency by adding row cleaners. However, Fisher reserved the right to recommend row cleaners to some farmers in certain situations.

"I believe they are absolutely a must if you're no-tilling corn into either wheat stubble or corn stalks," Fisher says. "People talk about how they clear a path that can warm up faster and get more light into where the seed goes if they run row cleaners," says Fisher.

However, I think there's even a more important reason for mounting row cleaners of your choice on the planter."

"You want a level seedbed for the planter units to ride over," he says. "If you're going into areas with cover, you're going to get some bounce as units pass through the field."

More and more people are recognizing bouncing units as a cause of poor seed depth placement today, Fisher says. He's a big believer in having the planter set right. That includes making sure that the seeding units run smoothly across the field.

"The old joke is that you ought to be able to set a full champagne glass on the box lid of every unit, and drive across the field without spilling any of it," Fisher says. "Bad things happen when units bounce. You don't get consistent seed spacing or consistent seed depth placement. You need both. That's where residue wheels come into play when you're going into a heavy cover, or into a stalk field. You just need a path for those planter units to run."

TAGS: Soybean
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