Maybe you have your corn in. Maybe you have soybeans left to plant. Some of you in areas hit with more rain early likely have both. But don't write off doing a plot just because you think it will take a lot of time.
With GPS helping you know where to drive and yield monitors on combines, you can put out meaningful plots to check various practices and seed hybrids or varieties in a lot less time than it used to take. You can even replicate plots if you plant full passes in a field and just use up the width of the field to repeat treatments.
Wait a minute, you say – if you're going to test planting depth and one hybrid vs. another at the same time, and you have three or four replications with strips picked at random so each treatment gets a fair chance, that's a lot of switching back and forth from one setting to another or one hybrid to another.
That's where the beauty of GPS comes in. Using RTK GPS, or even SatLoc services that you subscribe to, you can likely get readings accurate enough to plant all four passes of the same treatment in a four rep test before making any changes.
How it works
First, make a pass on the border of the field to set and A-B line for GPS. The computer figures out how many passes will be in the field. Using a Trimble FX system on its third year, not the latest model available, a driver we worked with went to any pass he wanted in the field. If treatment one is hybrid A at one inch deep, he could plant all four passes, one in each rep, of that combination, before needing to switch adjustments on the planter.
The GPS simply tells him which pass he's headed toward as he drives along the end of the field after completing a pass. With some of the older systems it may tend to overshoot the pass, but an alert operator can still "grab onto a pass" and steer the tractor into position, then turn the auto-steering loose.
When the entire plot is planted, there is no room left, and each pass is an equal distance from the other. It takes the excuse of wasted time out of planting plots. And the good part is you have a test on your own farm on your soils.
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