Ep. 51: The Most Overlooked Piece of Equipment on Your Farm with Brett Buehler
It’s a complex machine. But it doesn’t have a diesel engine or even a transmission. It gets a lot of wear and needs adjustments that are often overlooked, running the risk of potentially expensive problems in the field.
What is it?
It’s a planter, of course.
In Brett Buehler’s eyes, the planter is one of the most overlooked pieces of equipment on the farm.
“Most people don’t tend to think that a planting row unit is a complex machine,” explains Brett, an Ag Leader Technology Sales Specialist. But when it comes to setting the toolbar or a disc shim properly, how do you know you’ve got it right?
Typically, not until you’ve noticed that one row hasn’t popped up in the field.
But with planting technology, Brett says growers have the opportunity to overcome some of the complex challenges that come with planting.
Seed depth is critical
Seed depth is critical to yield, and depending on the growing environment, the optimum planting depth could be shallower or deeper. So how do you determine the proper seed depth for your soil type and conditions?
Planting technology like SureForce is one solution.
After conducting numerous on-farm trials with SureForce on his farm and in different growing conditions across the country, Brett is always excited to show growers how this planting product “can pay for itself within the first year, especially at today’s corn prices.”
Using sensors on each row unit to determine proper depth, Brett says trials show that SureForce is most effective in more difficult planting conditions, such as no-till or clay soil.
Brett explains that it’s hard to see results just by walking the fields, but when data gets pulled in through the yield monitor, growers will see where seed depth can give them a bump in yield.
Singulation and spacing matter
“There are not many people anymore that would argue that singulation and spacing don’t matter when planting,” states Brett. “So when we’re looking at high-speed planting systems, if you plant fast, spacing tends to fall apart.”
Coming in to help growers plant faster without sacrificing consistent spacing is SureSpeed.
According to Brett, SureSpeed allows growers to plant at speeds up to 12 mph while ensuring good spacing from plant to plant.
Spacing becomes critical to yield because plants compete with each other. And while Brett says a yield bump would be nice, that’s not always what he’s after.
“What I’m after is saving seed cost,” explains Brett. “If yield is a tie and I cut my seed costs by more than half, that’s a big win.”
To demonstrate this on his farm, Brett conducted two different field trials. One in which he did field passes at varying speeds to determine if speed makes a difference in yield, and one in which he planted different seed populations per acre to determine if plant populations make a difference in yield.
Though yield results haven’t been determined yet, Brett says that he can assume his five pod-producing bean stalks in the lower planted population will result in a yield bump, or at least a tie, when compared to his single pod-producing stalks from the higher seed population field.
Here’s a glance at this episode:
[01:38] Brett introduces himself and explains his role at Ag Leader where he focuses on planting equipment.
[02:39] Brett discusses how he started doing field trials on his farm using Ag Leader equipment, putting them up to challenges, and sharing the results on social media.
[03:28] Brett demonstrates why the SureForce system is his favorite planting product.
[06:17] Explaining how SureForce performs in a no-till versus strip-till versus conventional till environment, Brett describes how the more difficult the planting conditions are, the quicker you will see a return on investment through planter technologies like SureForce.
[09:29] Brett dives into how SureForce works, explaining how sensors on each row unit determine proper seed depth.
[14:43] Switching to discussing the SureSpeed planting system, Brett describes how even though “speed” may be in this technology’s name, it does well at relatively slow speeds too, and it gives consistent spacing at different speeds.
[17:00] Brett talks about an in-field trial he did on his farm to analyze planting faster without sacrificing stand.
[22:01] Brett illustrates the preliminary results of another trial he’s been analyzing: using different soybean seed populations per acre to see if lowering the population can generate the same yield, but save on seed cost.
[24:53] Brett reveals an area of pushback he gets from growers who plant low populations.
[29:28] Brett leaves with tips on what growers can think about how to prepare for planting in the Spring of 2023.
Resources mentioned in this episode: