Darin Anderson, Valley City, N.D., says he is saving about 10% on corn seed costs and getting the same or higher yields by using variable rate seeding technology.
"We have big problems when it is too dry," Anderson says.
Sandy hilltops on their farm don't have enough moisture to support their standard 30,000 ppa population. But the sidehills and low area can handle heavier stands.
For example in 2006 – which was dry on his farm -- hilltops averaged about 45 bushels per acre, while lower area averaged more than 150 bushels per acre. Some hilltops didn't produce any corn.
Anderson started varying plant populations manually a few years ago. He'd lower the rate on hilltops so the corn plants would have more area from which to draw moisture. He'd raise the seeding on the side slopes and low areas.
Darin Anderson likes the variable rate seeding results.
Now, he's using yield maps to create variable rate planting rate instructions for his Case IH planter.
"I took the two driest years and merged the yield maps to come up with the planting maps," he explains.
He programmed the planter to plant 22,000 seed per acre in areas that produced less than 50 bushels per acre. In the highest producing areas, he set the top seeding rate at approximately 32,400. In between, he uses several other graduated rates.
The average seeding rate ranges between 29,000 and 31,000 and he saves about 10% on seed annually. Yields have been the same or higher.
"I might give up a little yield on hilltops in a perfect year," Anderson says, "but how many years are perfect?"