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Can You Afford to Give Up 20 Bushels of Corn Per Acre?Can You Afford to Give Up 20 Bushels of Corn Per Acre?

Here's how you can avoid costly pitfalls before you plant the first grain.

Tom Bechman 1

February 25, 2014

2 Min Read

Who would knowingly give up 20 bushels of corn per acre? No one would in their right mind. Yet Bill Lehmkuhl says that if you run a central fill planter and fill it to the brim without accounting for the extra weight in the center of the planter for the first several rounds, you can give up at least that much on the center rows.

"We've seen it in tests we've done," he says. "The culprit is soil compaction, especially sidewall compaction. If the number three crown root to emerge becomes trapped in the seed trench, the plant will struggle to have normal development."

One thing you should do on any planter is to make sure the tongue is level and at a 90 degree angle with the ground.


"It may sound simple, but if it is nose-diving on the tongue, you may have planter units running such that they float seed up and it's not as deep as it should be."

Lehmkuhl is a farmer and owner or Precision Agri Services, Inc., Minster, Ohio. He recently addressed customers of Greene Ag Consulting, Inc., in Franklin.

Related: How to Reduce Soil Compaction While Planting

The central fill planter problem can also be solved, Lehmkuhl says. "Just because tanks for seed are of a certain capacity doesn't mean you have to fill them full," he notes. The extra weight from full seed tanks puts more weight on the center of the planter during the first several rounds whole the tanks are still relatively full.

Another solution is to put weights on the two wings to help offset the weight in the center, he says. Taking the weight issue into account on a central fill planter is a key if you want to avoid compacting soil on the rows in the center of the planter pass.

Sally Brodbeck of Precision Inflation, LLC, offers another solution, or at least another aid to minimize compaction on all planters, and especially center-fill planters. She markets a system that consists of an air compressor and lines leading to planter tires.

"When you're going down the road you may need 90 pounds per square inch in those tires," she says. "But in the field you would be much better off with 30 pounds per square inch. Our product allows you to make those adjustments from the cab."

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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