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Corn+Soybean Digest

Time-Saving Truck

Texas rig hauls, treats and inoculates seed Anyone who doublecrops soybeans and plants during wheat harvest knows how time and labor must be stretched. David Young, Blackwell, OK, found a way to do both.

His shop-built seed-service truck enables one person to easily treat and inoculate seed, then feed it into a planter - in a single operation.

"That frees one or more people to run a combine and grain truck in wheat harvest and not work themselves to death worrying about getting beans planted at the same time," says Young.

He and his brothers, Larry and Gary, grow about 2,000 acres of Group IIIs and IVs in a 100% no-till operation. Beans have been rotated with wheat and grain sorghum. Corn was added to the rotation for 2000.

"The demands of getting a large portion of our beans planted in early summer during wheat harvest were huge," says Young. "I knew there was a better way."

His solution: Mount a non-utilized 4-ton fertilizer spreader to a 20-year-old, 1-ton Ford F350 truck, then customize the setup to handle 6,000 lbs or more of bean seed efficiently.

The setup was designed and built by Young and Matt DeWitt, the farm's foreman. It features a 6" Westfield grain auger common to many farms.

"One reason I bought the truck was because it was equipped with hydraulics," says Young. "So we were able to rig up flow-control valves for better movement of seed through the auger. The auger also has plastic cup flighting to help reduce damage to seed."

The auger does more than just move seed from the spreader container to a planter. Bean Guard seed treatment is fed through the lower end of the auger from a Gustafson treatment system mounted at the rear of the truck.

"Our soil has a low pH, so I wouldn't plant soybean seed without treating it," says Young. "With the seed-service truck system, I feel like we not only conserve time and labor, but we save $1 per bag over seed treated commercially."

Additionally, inoculant is applied through the auger about 4' above the treatment nozzle. The inoculant is contained in a 2 1/2-gallon ice chest mounted behind the treatment applicator.

"I keep the inoculant iced down," says Young. "It's essential to make sure that it doesn't overheat during early summer applications."

Travis Miller, Texas A&M University soybean specialist, says a cooling system like the one used by Young is vital to an inoculant program.

"The inoculant is a live bacteria that should be kept cool and dark until used," stresses Miller. "The refrigeration is required as the bacteria is sensitive to heat and sunlight. Once the bacteria has colonized the soybean roots, it's a bit more tolerant of higher temperatures."

Young also treats wheat seed for fall planting, and uses the truck for a number of other chores.

"It's a `catch-all' piece of equipment," he says. "It's like a grain cart, but doesn't require a tractor to pull it to the field. A lot of neighbors look at it and wonder how they can come up with a similar rig."

Miller says that more and more producers find ways to enhance their operations.

"It continues to amaze me how innovative our farmers are," he says. "Doublecropping presents a narrow planting window. This grower was able to accomplish timely planting and harvest with an equipment innovation."

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