The farmer planting the Crop Watch '14 field in the eastern Corn Belt this year takes pride in matching seeding rate to soil types. He's a firm believer that darker, more productive soils can withstand higher seeding rates than lighter, lower organic matter soils that are not as productive as dark soils.
After he has planted a field his display chain on the John Deere monitor looks like a colored patchwork quilt. Whenever rates change, a different color appears on the map.
He assembled the prescription for where seeding rates should change using soil maps and knowledge of the fields from several years of farming. He made the prescription maps himself using software.
He realizes soils just don't automatically switch from one soil to the other in most cases, and that soil maps aren't 100% accurate. That's why he adjusts the lines of planting changes based on experience in each field, and where high productivity land starts and lower productivity land stops.
He typically plants at levels ranging up to 36,000 seeds per acre. However, most of the time he is planting at rates which are lower than the top rate. Each rate is recorded in a different color on the screen once the area is planted, given the screen's quilt-like appearance.
He uses a Sat Loc II signal from John Deere to handle GPS guidance. His tractor is also equipped with auto-steer so that he can plant later into the evening, even after dark, if necessary to finish a field.
Look for stand counts later in the season on the Crop Watch '14 items to see if he came close to achieving his goals in different parts of the field. It's one thing to plant different rates but another to have seed germinate and emerge uniformly so that you can have the desired final plant population.