At one time when you heard someone talk about precision ag it was about minimizing overlap of the sprayer and driving the planter straight.  After a winter of farm shows and meetings I have come to the conclusion in certain regions that precision ag is evolving into being about real planting precision.

In the corn and soybean areas of the US and Canada we are no longer just planting seed into the seed trench with our fingers crossed that we avoided the W bottom.  With advances from companies like John Deere, Precision Planting, Case IH, and Kinze, precision agriculture is now about focusing on gaining yield by placing the seed exactly where yoou want it.  The exact depth, exact spacing at the exact population.

When I say place the seed where you want I mean precisely where you want it with 100% accuracy.  Thats right 100% seed placement accuracy.

While attending the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville Kentucky this year I realized very quickly that the industry and farmers are trying to gain the next ten bushels of corn yield by maximizing the effectiveness of the planter and how the seed is placed in the soil.  Many people expressed the opinion that seed genetics have done their part so now it is the planter’s turn to help out with yield bump.  I discussed my observation with a number of different manufacturers, seed companies and farmers at the show and almost everyone agreed with my thoughts at this time.

It is great to see precision agriculture finally focusing on the planter to try and raise yields. It is hard to disagree with the concept that good agronomy begins with proper seed placement and cover up.  Welcome to precision agriculture 2.0.  Finally.



5 thoughts on “The Evolution of Precision Agriculture Focuses on the Planter

  1. Seed placement or singulation (various spellings) I agree, so important especially for corn. I dunno about that next 10 bushels from it, but that certainly makes sense. Where at one time, 150 bu/acre in SW Ontario was a litmus test for a bumper crop, last year in Chatham Kent the average yield was 203 bu/acre. So the yield bar is moving and much of that comes from older planters. However, newer planters would surely add to that equation. Last year at the Louisville show Geringhoff had a special corn head, where you could harvest any which way, not following rows. It was amazing, I believe made for the future of 300 bu/ac corn and higher which may be planted with a totally different planter at much higher plant populations. Who knows what that might look like, maybe a grain drill, but this Geringhoff head was built for a scenario where corn rows are in the rear view mirror. All interesting stuff, and yes precision ag continues to develop, Precision Ag 2.0, 3.0 and beyond.

  2. Thanks, I must have missed your video on the Geringhoff corn head. Unfortunately, I was unable to go to NFMS in 2013, so I missed it. Maybe if I search hard enough, I can find your video.

  3. You are right on the money, we have invested more on planter up grades this year so we can see that I am putting the seed right where I want it and can take all of my data with me on my Ipad, makes it great for talking with landlords and making future choices or concerns.

  4. We certainly have been led to believe that “precision” in placement and singulation is one of the barriers to the next yield bump. Thing of it is that this little 9 letter word has come to mean conveyor or siphon or even vaccum of money from one persons pocket to the pocket of a corporation. If you care to look for it, there is an equal amount of research to indicate that while yes, within certain limits; there is a very low or no effect on crop yield from less than precise spacing and depth placement.
    It is true, there is a range of depth and spacing within which there is little or no affect on crop yield.
    Here is something else to consider. The planting equipment we are using as our “precision insturment” has limitations based on it’s design. The current accepted planter design’s have evolved for reasons that are not necessarily based on the needs of the seed and the plant. Planting machinery has evolved around our need to be able to clear residue, control weeds and harvest. The result is that the range in spacing and depth has become limited by other factors. Spacing and depth have become more important that they need to be with the result that higher spending on more technology is necessary.
    I suspect that if we focused more on the needs of the seed and desires of the plant that equipment would look much different and our focus would not be on precision but on yield limiting factors that rank much higher than depth and spacing.
    I will go out on a limb and say that there are ways to reduce the cost of precision and dramatically increase yield at the same time. The ability to harvest any crop in any direction will change the game completely.
    Like all technology the term “precision ag” will become obsolete.
    5.0 – I dont think so.

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