Update, April 2015: Check the latest specs on the Beck's - Kinze Multi-hybrid planter, now nearing full commercial availability.
Multi-hybrid planting is not only happening but, it's proving itself and starting to show real results. Spring of 2014 will be important in taking this technology to the next level.
"Kinze is excited to be working with Beck's Hybrids again this year," said Rhett Schildroth, senior product manager at Kinze Manufacturing. "The positive results we observed in their research the last two years pushed us to develop the 4900 multi-hybrid concept planter. Farmers need to see this new agronomic practice in the field and have a practical way to implement it."
Changes from spring of 2013 proved significant and valuable. Beginning with a standard Kinze 4900 planter equipped with bulk fill, the individual row units were modified significantly. It was discovered that by simply rotating one seed meter 180 degrees to the left, two seed meters would fit on the unit and allow both meters to drop into a single seed tube. This also alleviated the need for the tractor GPS to shift the AB line each time there was a switch in varieties.
Fitting each seed meter with electric stepper motors as opposed to hydraulic motors also allowed for shorter response time and less pressure on the hydraulic system of the tractor. Thanks to technology and the switch to the electric stepper motors, response time between hybrids was down to six inches, only a one seed overlap, if any. Technology in the cab provided for individual row population settings and row-to-row hybrid transition based off of the GPS prescription.
In Beck's Hybrids' two years of on-farm research, an average of 9.5 bushels an acre yield increase was achieved with a net profit of $52.24 per acre.
Spring of 2014 will see three of these Kinze multi-hybrid corn planters working in fields for on-farm research in Indiana, Illinois and Iowa. Each PFT partner will work with company representatives, along with Beck's Hybrids personnel, to test the new technology.
Kinze Manufacturing will provide their 4900 series single-row, multi-hybrid planter. New Holland Agriculture will be providing each concept planter with a Genesis T8 tractor as well. Raven Industries will be the electronic provider.
The first Kinze multi-hybrid planter is already at work in Texas. Jason Webster, director for Beck's Hybrids Practical Farm Research in central Illinois, says Texas weather provides the perfect opportunity to get a jump start on smoothing out any kinks that might arise as these concept planters start rolling.
Corn planting in Texas starts mid- to late February and provides just enough extra field time to make sure these concept planters were ready to roll in the Midwest come April.
This is a concept planter being tested by Kinze with help from Beck's Hybrids. The company has not announced a potential commercial release date, nor has it promised to make and sell the planter in the future.