Ah, the plans of mice and men- they sometimes go awry. Last year was the first time that Indiana Prairie Farmer and Precision Planting, Tremont, Ill., teamed up to cooperate with the Throckmorton Purdue Ag Center near Romney and the Tippecanoe County Extension Service to conduct a plant aimed at determining how to fine-tune planting operation for more accurate stands and better yields.
The weather didn't cooperate, and the plot wasn't planted until the middle of the last week of May. Once it was agreed to do the plot again, organizers decided on two dates this year. The idea was for an early planting to see if factors of downpressure, seed depth and planting speed had more effect earlier in the season. The second date would be similar to the 2010 plot, so that perhaps they could begin to see trends. The goal for planting the first plot was April 15- May 1.
Mother Nature had other ideas. Hardly anyone planted from April 15 to May 1. Lafayette caught a break on a couple of rains, and a considerable amount of planting was done in that area over the past two weeks. The first IPF/Precision plot was planted May 21.
Even though it was only a few days different than last year, conditions were different. The soil temperature at 4 degrees was about 77 degrees last year. This year, it was only about 65 degrees F at 4 inches deep. That could have an effect upon results.
A second complete test is expected to be planted around June 1. The factors in the plot were simplified. Since no interactions were found between the various factors last year, this year's plot are really a combination of three separate tests. One test is for seed depth, the other for downpressure on the planting units and the third for planting speed.
"We're hoping this will simplify things and make it easier to understand and explain," says Dave Nnada, a crops consultant who helps design the plot setup. He's also director of genetics and technology for Seed Consultants, Inc. Seed Consultants, Inc., donated insecticide-coated, rootworm and corn borer resistant seed for the trials.
Each factor has four parameters this year instead of three. "We didn't see enough difference at 6 miles per hour," Nanda says. "In a trial, you want to go far enough both directions so that you know what you find in the middle is likely most practical. So we threw in 7 miles per hour, and compared it to 4, 5 and 6. The results should be interesting."