Ep. 51: The Most Overlooked Piece of Equipment on Your Farm with Brett Buehler
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:
Demonstration video of SureSpeed singulation and spacing
Ep. 23: Preparing for Planting with Brett Buehler
Welcome to Precision Points, an AgTech podcast where we plant seeds of innovation to inspire informed decisions about precision technology and its impact for growers like you. We explore precision ag tools and technology, from the soil to the sky, with your host Morgan Seger.
Morgan Seger (00:23):
Welcome back to Precision Points, an AgTech podcast from precisionagreviews.com. I'm your host, Morgan Seger, and in each episode we strive to bring you AgTech information and ideas. Today on the show, I'm joined by Brett Buehler from Ag Leader. Brett has been on our show before, talking about planter technology and working through planter maintenance, and today we spend time talking about SureForce and SureSpeed, two of their planting technologies, and also the on-farm trials that they have across the country. I love how Brett talks about the complexity of the planter in such a simple, easy-to-understand way, and the way he describes his on-farm trials where he not only looks at the accuracy these technologies give the planter, but the results that they have and the impact on the population and how all of those things can affect your final yield and your bottom line. So I hope you enjoy this conversation with Brett Buehler. Brett, welcome to the show.
Brett Buehler (01:21):
Morgan Seger (01:22):
So, if you are an avid listener of Precision Points, Brett will have a familiar voice for you today. He joined us back in Episode 23, where we talked about getting your planters ready for spring. So we're excited to have you back on the show today. Before we dive in, can you introduce yourself to our listeners?
Brett Buehler (01:38):
Sure. You've already told them my name, it's Brett, and I've been at Ag Leader for 12 years now. And I focus on our planting equipment. So for a lot of that time at Ag Leader, I actually worked on the team that was tasked with developing the new products. So deciding what path we want to go down, what's going to be next for Ag Leader, building business cases for those sorts of things, and then the development and testing of that product. So I got into the depths of what it takes for one of our solutions to operate. I knew a lot of the inner workings that most people don't see. And I knew those things so well that when I started paying more attention to how we market them, I thought, man, there's a lot of power to some of these tools that we ought to be letting the public know about.
Brett Buehler (02:39):
So I started doing trials on my own farm, posting that stuff on Twitter. I still do that today. Go ahead and give me a follow @BuehlerFarm. For me, farming and doing trials is what makes that farming fun for me, and Ag Leader of course makes a lot of that possible with the data analysis stuff that we offer, the SMS software, and of course, the InCommand Display records everything, so you can analyze just about anything you want. That makes it fun for me. And then I started doing that on some other people's farms too. So that's shifted my focus. I've moved out of the development team. Now, it's pretty much mostly marketing that I do, but it's positioning our current products in the field and putting them up to challenges.
Brett Buehler (03:28):
One example is the SureForce system. It's my favorite planting product. It pays for itself so quickly, but to a lot of people it seems like smoke and mirrors or black magic, like come on, there's no way that thing pays. It's like, I'll tell you what, I'll put it on half of your planter, you run your springs with the airbags however you want, do the best that you can on your operation, and let's compare. So if you have a 16 row planter and an eight row head, it just works so well to have eight rows of SureForce compared to eight rows of whatever that grower wants to do. And then it's just so much fun for me to see their eyes light up.
Brett Buehler (04:03):
And what makes it really cool is, sometimes it's hard to see, walking the fields, when you're averaging 250 bushels an acre, the difference of a 255 bushel ear to a 250 bushel ear, you can't see it really with the naked eye, but when you pull it in through the yield monitor, and you see that consistently... When you do a trial like this, the whole farm is a trial. So you've got hundreds of replications out there. And SMS will say it's statistically significant that SureForce gave us this five, six, seven bushel an acre yield bump. And then when you look at what corn is worth today, it pays for that system incredibly fast. It makes my job so much fun.
Morgan Seger (04:50):
I was going to say, I saw that you have maybe been on the road, so I noticed that these trials expanded from your farm to... What's the reach now, where you're looking at these on-farm trials?
Brett Buehler (05:02):
So when I first started doing this, I had trials on the east coast and in Virginia. I had one in Ohio recently. Actually, I had two of them in Ohio and Indiana. It was a pretty big expanse, but it was so time-consuming for me to try to get to Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Ohio, and Indiana. We've actually brought on more people onto our team to help with some of those trials. So now, this year, I've got a trial in Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska, and that's the three states I'm covering this year. Next year that might change, but my territory has shrunk a little bit, which helps me spend more time on the trials, which I think is important because there's so much to capture and learn and see that if I can spend less time on the road and more time in the field, it just makes it that much better.
Morgan Seger (06:02):
Yeah, for sure. As you said, those initial geographies, my brain went to, those are totally different soil types, those are completely different growing environments. How did those things play into the effectiveness of these tools?
Brett Buehler (06:17):
Great question. And a lot of our trial efforts in the past, where we've done a lot of SureForce trials, particularly replicated trials, and these would not be what I focused on, but Barry, who is not at Ag Leader anymore, but he focused a lot on getting those replicated trials. So we would have 60 of these, maybe 40 a year, and we would look at how does SureForce perform in no-till versus strip-till versus conventional till? And there is a big difference there. So, generally speaking, the more difficult your planting conditions, the quicker SureForce is going to pay. So cover crop, no-till, our trials show that it pays for itself within the first year, especially at today's corn prices. If you're in conventional till, like what my farms are, it's a little bit slower. You might see just a couple of bushel an acre bump there, which depending on how many acres your farm is going to be different.
Brett Buehler (07:13):
But the bottom line is, it pays regardless of your soil type. I've got one this year - there's a guy in Minnesota, he's got the mellowest soil conditions I've ever seen, so not a challenge to plant into at all. He's got airbags on his planter, and I asked him, "How do you know what you set your airbag pressure to?" He's like, "30 psi. That's where I've always run them. It seems to work fine." And I did a lot of digging behind the planter, and I thought, yeah, this does work fine. It's going to be tough for SureForce to win in this field because it's so forgiving.
Brett Buehler (07:52):
After that crop started coming up and I started seeing some difference in emergence, I found areas of the field where the airbags didn't do as well of a job, and those corresponded with all of the soil types that had a higher clay content. So 30 psi in his airbags was too much for that clay, and he caused some compaction. So I focused on those areas this year, scouting those fields, and taking a look at root development where his 30 psi and his airbags caused some challenges. Now the load on the gauge wheels didn't really change when he went from a sandier soil type to that soil type that had clay, so without overlaying it onto a soil type map and also just walking the fields early season, that's how we caught it. So I'm excited to see that one come to the yield monitor because I'm betting in the sandy soils in his conventional till fields, SureForce, it's not going to lose, but I don't think it's going to pay. But when he hits that clay soil, it's going to pay.
Brett Buehler (08:51):
And SMS, I'm actually planning on doing an analysis that will show, in soil type X, SureForce pays this, and in soil type Y, SureForce pays this. So that should show, in the sand, it's not paying off, it's not going to return the investment in that system, but in the clay soil, here's your return on investment.
Morgan Seger (09:15):
Yeah. And that'll be really helpful information for people who are trying to decide if that's going to be a good fit for them because they can look at their own soil textures and go from there.
Brett Buehler (09:25):
Morgan Seger (09:26):
So, how does SureForce work?
Brett Buehler (09:29):
How does it work? I like to go deep into this question, because your audience is huge, and there are going to be some people who want just a very basic answer, and there are going to be some who want a more in-depth answer. And I'm going to start by saying the planting row unit is a complex machine. Most people don't tend to think that. It doesn't have a diesel engine; it doesn't have a transmission. So quite typically the planter is an overlooked piece of equipment on the farm. And there is a lot of wear on things that can be overlooked. There are a lot of adjustments that can be overlooked. And when you don't have the toolbar set right, or you don't have the opening disc shim properly, or you've got a bad opening disc bearing, that causes a very expensive problem in the field.
Brett Buehler (10:14):
SureForce can overcome some of those things. And the more valuable piece is it highlights when things break immediately, rather than at the end of the field, and you have one row that doesn't come out. Ag Leader started in yield monitoring on combines; we'd have basically a load cell that senses the weight of the grain coming into the combine. On the planter, we use a similar sensor that is on each row unit, so when the opening discs get to the proper depth, now the gauge wheels of the row unit are supporting the rest of the weight. And those gauge wheels, if there is weight on them, we know that the opening discs are at the proper depth. So if we don't have load on that sensor, we know that we're planting shallow. We don't know how shallow necessarily, but somewhat shallow.
Brett Buehler (11:04):
After that sense then, that SureForce system also has a hydraulic cylinder. Every row has its own cylinder and its own valve. So let's say on your 16-row planter, row number 16 is planting shallow, and the rest of them aren't. Row 16's going to get more hydraulic pressure to push that row into the soil where it belongs. So that's the easiness of it, is that sensor says, "We've got no load on the sensor, so let's increase the pressure."
Brett Buehler (11:30):
Now, on the flip side of that, if you have, let's say, 250 pounds of gauge wheel load, that's a lot. And if you're planting into that clay soil, like this trial in Minnesota, it's compacting and pushing all the air out of there. And bricks are made out of clay, so if you take that clay soil and compress it, then you hit it with sun, it turns that ground into a brick, and roots can't grow through that. So you don't want to compress that soil. You want the seed to be at the proper depth, but it takes a lot less to form a seed trench, and to get that seed where it needs to be in a clay soil. So maybe 75 pounds is all we're targeting there. It helps us make sure that we're at depth and we don't have too much downforce to cause damaging compaction.
Morgan Seger (12:16):
And that happens automatically? The monitor will tell you what that is, and the grower changes it, or the device changes it?
Brett Buehler (12:24):
So the grower sets a target. By default, we're targeting 100 pounds in gauge wheel load, which is a good default. We've had a lot of dry years here. For me, it's been past two years have been really dry. And what happens when we've got dry soil? The analogy I use is like building a sandcastle. It's really hard to build a sandcastle with dry sand. Or if you're from an area that's got snow, when you get that dry cold snow, and you try to make a snowball, you have to squeeze it really hard to make that snowball. Soil is the same way. If it's dry, it takes more gauge wheel load.
Brett Buehler (13:03):
I went to one of Iowa State University's planter clinics, and they talked about setting soil density. There is an ideal soil density that transfers moisture to the seed more efficiently than a lesser dense soil, but it doesn't hinder root development. So SureForce, depending on how dry it is, we can set up a target downforce to 100 pounds, which gives me the proper soil density in an ideal moisture environment. Or this year, I ran a lot of my acres on 200 because it was so dry. 200 pounds of gauge wheel load gave me the proper soil density that my trench holds together with that higher density soil that I've set. It holds moisture a little bit better. So I get nice even emergence. If I leave those air pockets in there and loose soil, I don't have consistent immersion.
Brett Buehler (13:55):
SureForce is an incredibly valuable tool, but you do have to know how to set it. Like any incredible tool, if you use it the wrong way, it can actually cause damage. So you want to know what you're doing with the tool. I focused a lot of time on building tutorials, so out in the field, I'll make a pass and show people on Instagram. Last year I did some videos that show myself setting it at this setting. For example, I drive 100 feet, and I look at the trench. Here's what I'm looking for. I can see that I don't have enough. Here's the setting I'm going to make, drive another 100 feet, look at it again, and boom, we're where we want to be.
Morgan Seger (14:35):
Gotcha. Do people change that based on the soil textures within their field, or is it usually just a field number that you said?
Brett Buehler (14:43):
After you've used the tool for a while, you will know. You'll have that gut feeling that 100 pounds is good for when my moisture line's an inch deep or three-quarters of an inch below the surface. If that moisture line is closer to two inches, I know that I need 200 pounds. So you still have to get out and check field conditions and know field conditions, but after you've used it a few times and know that if it's wet and a little bit tacky out here, I'm going to run the light setting at 75 pounds, or a minimum which is 50 pounds of gauge wheel load, or if it's just incredibly dry, I'm going to run that 150, maybe 200 pounds of gauge wheel load. So you'll build that with enough experience, but you build that knowledge by getting out and checking. It's not a tool that just completely automates it. You still have to know what the right setting is and set that right setting. But after that, then it does it for you.
Morgan Seger (15:43):
Very cool. So how does this work with SureSpeed?
Brett Buehler (15:46):
Yeah. So SureSpeed, it's almost sometimes scary to me that we put speed in the name because I don't want it to be viewed as just another high-speed planting solution, which it does do. It allows you to plant uncomfortably fast. I put in some passes at 12 miles an hour on my farm this year, and that's scooting. That's really scooting.
Morgan Seger (16:08):
You get done real quick that way.
Brett Buehler (16:10):
Yeah. It's a good diet plan, though, because you have no time to eat your lunch. It's fence row to fence row, as fast as you can blink an eye. But it does really well at slow speeds too. There's hardly anybody who's up to date on the work that universities do. There are not many people anymore that would argue that singulation and spacing don't matter in corn. People know that. So when we were looking at high-speed planting systems, it's like with a traditional planter, if you plant fast, spacing falls apart, and the high-speed planting system keeps that spacing pretty well at high speeds. Where they were struggling was at low speeds. And you can't go fast 100% of the time, and spacing still matters at low speeds.
Brett Buehler (17:00):
So we built a system in SureSpeed that I can plant three miles an hour, up to twelve, and anywhere in between, and get consistent spacing. So to highlight that on my farm this year, I did passes at four different speeds, at three, six, nine, and twelve, and I put the three-mile-an-hour pass right next to the twelve-mile-an-hour pass, and you cannot see a difference. And I did that intentionally because one of the pushbacks I so often get with high-speed planting is, "Corn's worth $7 a bushel right now. I'm not going to plant fast and sacrifice my stand when I can make that much money. It's not worth getting done faster." But what if you can get done faster and not sacrifice the stand? Which is what SureSpeed offers.
Brett Buehler (17:46):
So that's pretty cool. The three-mile-an-hour pass was so painful I almost gave up. At that point, I’d been used to planting at five miles an hour, so you would think three wouldn't be that bad. But with SureSpeed, nine miles an hour is what I have found comfortable and smooth, and trying to go three, my standards immediately change. You think five is a typical planting speed, but once you get SureSpeed, most people are going eight to nine miles an hour, and that's where things just flow. You can go to twelve, but as I said, you're really scooting.
Morgan Seger (18:27):
Yeah. And to your point about going fast to get it done with corn prices and stuff, sometimes we just don't have an option. If there's a weather event coming in or soil conditions are just right, you might as well try to get it in as fast as you can, as long as you're not giving up on that accuracy. So is that what you were using in the video you posted on Twitter? I think it was probably a year ago already, where it looked like there was a skip, and you took your spade and dug in and found it right away, and it was right where we're supposed to be. That was one of my favorite visuals on Twitter.
Brett Buehler (19:00):
Yeah. I like to use my seed-digging tool, which is half an inch wide, that doesn't leave a whole lot of room for error. But when there's a missing plant, I can poke that down right to where that seed ought to be and just pop it open. And quite often, it's germinated in some instances, it's stuck to the end of my seed-digging tool, and my favorite part about that is walking the field with, whether it's an Ag Leader dealer or a grower who is less than satisfied with their stand, and you go out there and say, "There's a missing plant here, let me get out my seed digging tool. There's a seed. There's a seed." And you see all these seeds.
Brett Buehler (19:43):
So now the question is, the plant did its job, the seed's where it needs to be, why didn't it germinate? Do we have a seed-to-soil contact issue? We can dig and check for that. Did we have cold soil temperatures or a rain event, a cold rain event that caused some shock? We can look at those plants that are germinated and determine, yeah, it looks like we had that. And with some of the weather apps out there, you can take a historical look, and I can see that it was planted on April 20th, and on April 21st, we got this cold rain. That's not a good situation to be in. So it's an awesome tool. Makes me smile even thinking about it.
Morgan Seger (20:27):
Yeah, that's great. Well, if I can find it, I know it's kind of old, but if I can find that video, I'll link to it in our show notes so people can see what we're talking about.
Brett Buehler (20:35):
Perfect. And I have a million of those on my phone.
Morgan Seger (20:39):
Okay, you can send us a new one.
Brett Buehler (20:42):
You can have one that the internet's never seen because there are too many of them to post.
Morgan Seger (20:46):
That's awesome. Yep, that would be great. So I know that I've seen the data; talking about the importance of singulation, plant to plant spacing in corn. How does this play into the agronomics of soybeans?
Brett Buehler (21:01):
Sure. I can tell you that SureSpeed gives me a picket fence stand in soybeans, and it is awesome, and I have never seen anything like it. Is that valuable? There are not a lot of studies out there done on that that would support that spacing matters in soybeans. But when I started going through some of those studies and talking with people who have an opinion one way or the other, those opinions and studies are surrounding planted populations that are more traditional of, for example, 140,000 seeds an acre, 160,000 seeds an acre. I started looking at some of the high-yield winners, I saw one of the competitive yield guys out in Nebraska; his planted population is 70,000 seeds an acre. Most guys don't plant that low, but if he's trying to win a yield contest and he can do that at 70,000 seeds an acre, maybe there's something to it.
Brett Buehler (22:01):
So this year on my farm, I did two different soybean trials. So SureSpeed spaces soybeans incredibly well. I'm on 15-inch rows. I planted at 60,000 seeds an acre, 80,000 seeds an acre, 100,000, 120, 140, and 160. And I have these blocks; they're several hundred feet long, they are 60 feet wide, across about 60 acres. So it's a lot of blocks out there. I just finished harvesting that yesterday, so I haven't analyzed the results yet, but I'm excited to see what they say. And I can tell you from the yield monitor and from the cab I don't notice a difference, which is the goal. I don't want a yield bump necessarily with the lower populations. What I'm after is saving seed cost.
Brett Buehler (22:54):
So I'll know if that was achieved on my farm. I had one farmer, an on-farm trial I did last year, who also did that same population range, and his 60,000 was actually the winningest population. Normally with a trial like this, you're trying to set something that you know is too low and something that you know is too high, so you can find the peak of that bell curve. The results from that trial were almost a flat line. 60,000 was the best, 80,000 was the second best, and 100,000 was the third best. So he went down to 40,000 this year. I'm excited to see what his results are. I didn't go that low. As I said, I went to 60, but if I see that same thing on my farm, then maybe I'll go to 40 next year.
Brett Buehler (23:40):
Now, where I think this really gets interesting is the spacing aspect. Does spacing matter? And my hypothesis is that spacing does not matter in those higher populations. So what I did is, I have SureSpeed planting 140,000 seeds an acre, and I've got not SureSpeed planting 140,000 seeds an acre right next to it. Then I take SureSpeed and plant 60,000 seeds an acre, and not SureSpeed planting 60,000 seeds an acre. So I have these blocks throughout the field as well, where I've got good spacing, same population. The only difference is, do I get that SureSpeed picket fence stand, versus what a traditional planter spits out?
Brett Buehler (24:26):
And I can tell you, one of the major pushbacks of not planting a high population was, “I've got increased weed pressure.” And I could see that from the cab. I wish I had a drone up at the time. I took some pictures and videos from the cab of the combine, but you could look across the field and see where the 60,000 blocks with bad spacing were because I had a waterhemp problem. And I had a waterhemp problem the exact same size as that rectangle where I had 60,000 in poor spacing.
Brett Buehler (24:53):
Now, I still had more weed pressure in that 60,000 with good spacing, but it was probably about half of what the bad spacing had. So that tells me that there is a point where I agree with one of the pushbacks of low populations: “I've got increased weed pressure. “Sure, you do, but does that weed pressure happen at 100,000 with good spacing? I would say you're probably safe. You're not going to get that weed pressure. At 100,000 with bad spacing, you've got your weed pressure. So I'm hoping at least that what I saw from the cab supports that there is a value to good seed spacing.
Morgan Seger (25:31):
Interesting. I'm excited to see also what your research and your results say because the soybean plant is just so different, and it really compensates for a lot of planter issues, especially when we're planting higher populations, or at least it looks like it does because you see the plants push out and that kind of stuff. But actually knowing what that means in the tank at the end of harvest is a different story.
Brett Buehler (25:54):
Yeah. I just posted a picture on Twitter, and I know everyone's waiting for yield results, because I'm getting so many comments on it with people saying,” Let's see the results.” And now that I have the yield data, it's time to start punching those results. But I went out and pulled a plant from what I planted at 160,000 seeds an acre, and then immediately after that, pulled a plant from a block where I had 60,000. And what I had at 60,000 has five total bean-producing branches on it, and the 160,000 just had one - a single stock.
Brett Buehler (26:31):
So if I assume that I've got five pod-producing branches here versus one, does that boost my total bean count by threefold or fourfold? If it's fourfold, my 60,000 will yield better than 160,000. But doing the math on what it appears to be there versus how much I cut my planting population back, I think it's going to be pretty much a tie. And that's a win. If yield is a tie and I cut my seed costs by more than half, that's a big win.
Morgan Seger (27:12):
Yeah, for sure. We'll try to be patient with you on your research so you can finish harvesting first, but then we want to see it right away.
Brett Buehler (27:20):
I don't even know that I'm going to finish harvesting first. I'm just going to put corn harvest on hold here because I want to see it as bad as everyone else does.
Morgan Seger (27:26):
It's too exciting to wait.
Brett Buehler (27:28):
It is. It's too exciting.
Morgan Seger (27:29):
That's awesome. I think that there are a lot of fun things going on in the industry, just around soybean populations, because people keep pushing it lower and lower. And I remember, I don't know, five or more years ago when we just started getting under 100 on some trials, and it felt so scary, and then it was like you get your results back, and you're like, “Okay, we're still good. What's next?” So that's fun, and it will be interesting to see how the quality of the stand and where you're placing the seed is impacting that as well.
Brett Buehler (27:59):
Yeah. I don't know that 60,000 is going to be the winning population, but I really like combining. My 60,000 did have more weed pressure than 80,000, but my 80,000 was clean, and those vinier, bushier plants feed into my head so nicely. I love combining that. The only complaint that I would have is it's harder to see rocks, because all those extra branches shields the edges a little bit more. But luckily, I didn't pick up any rocks or run any through the combine, so we're good there. But that would be my only complaint, are those bushier plants make it harder to pick out those rocks coming at you.
Morgan Seger (28:40):
Gotcha. And I actually was wondering that if the stalk diameter is bigger, would that be harder to feed through, but you're saying it ran really well?
Brett Buehler (28:48):
Yeah. And it was so dry. My beans were a lot dryer than I wish that they had been. So no, I didn't experience any difficulties getting those stems to cut. They're not as big as my thumb, but you can look at the picture that's on Twitter right now that's gaining all those questions, and the stock diameter of the 60,000 is probably three times thicker than what it was at 160,000. But I didn't have any problem cutting them.
Morgan Seger (29:16):
Good. So we are clearly in harvest right now, but we're talking about planting. What else should people be thinking about for planting? Especially as we look into spring of 2023.
Brett Buehler (29:28):
Planter maintenance is always the lowest-hanging fruit to getting a good stand. Don't overlook it. And my experience with growers is that they pull that planter out of the field, and they always intend to go over some things. It's fresh in their memory. This row didn't maybe look as well as the other ones. But summer gets away from us, and now it's harvest time. I would say as soon as you're done with harvest, look at your planter, because it's not going to get warmer until it's time to plant. The next time it's warmer is when it's time to go to the field, and then you don't want to look at your planter anymore. So if you haven't done it already, get a look at the planter.
Brett Buehler (30:07):
One of the things I really love about having SureForce on a planter is when a gauge wheel arm breaks or a gauge wheel falls off, or an opening disc bearing goes bad, which is going to happen, SureForce always catches that. For instance, an opening disc bearing goes bad. Now you've got poor seed placement and poor seed-to-soil contact. That row comes up very inconsistently. And you will not know it until that crop is coming out of the ground and you're done planting. And then what are you going to do about it? Nothing.
Brett Buehler (30:40):
But if you have SureForce you will see that if row 16 has a bad opening disc bearing, row 16 is also going to be applying, for example, 150 or 200 pounds more downforce on that row. It's harder to keep that row in the ground, and SureForce will show you that. So if you've got that tool, you can catch it when the problem occurs rather than after the crop has come up.
Brett Buehler (31:03):
One problem I've seen is where a gauge wheel arm, the depth adjuster has actually broken out of the arm, and a John Deere planter, a Kinze planter, pretty much every planter on the market has a depth stop that it will not plant deeper than four inches. But let me tell you, if you put corn in at four inches deep, it has a hard time coming up. So when that gauge wheel arm breaks on whatever brand of planter you've got, you don't really notice that unless the gauge wheel falls off. But if that depth adjuster's not doing its job anymore, and you plant every acre that way, you've got one row, and nothing comes up. And that's embarrassing. It costs you a lot of money. What do you do?
Brett Buehler (31:42):
I know my dad, we didn't farm a lot of acres, but he had a push planter that when something wouldn't come up, he'd be out replanting that one row. Did that make sense for the bottom line? Probably for him it did, because he just had a six-row planter, so one missing row is a high percentage of his acres. But for other guys, they're just going to probably live with that one row. It's got pretty thin stands.
Morgan Seger (32:06):
All season long.
Brett Buehler (32:07):
Except for maybe right next to the road, they'll replant that one. And making sure that the planter’s bearings are good, and that things are adjusted. You'll be glad you spent the time it took to go through that.
Morgan Seger (32:22):
Yeah. I actually think that when you were on last time, that was one of the best planting resources that I have found. You did an excellent job talking about the planter front to back, and I know my husband and I, as we were getting things ready, we listened to that a couple of times, just making sure we were going through everything. So I'll link out to that too because I think that's a great resource.
Brett Buehler (32:40):
Morgan Seger (32:40):
So if someone's listening and they want to learn more about SureSpeed, SureForce, or what Ag Leader has to offer, or your trials, where would you suggest they go?
Brett Buehler (32:50):
We're going to be posting a lot of the trial results as stories from farmers. For one story, we have a farmer who didn't believe in SureForce, so we put it on half of his planter. That's a fun story to follow. We monitor that crop throughout the year. All of those videos are created and captured, but they'll be showing up on YouTube. So just search Ag Leader on YouTube. Ag Leader's on Facebook, just look for Ag Leader Tech. Same thing on Instagram, same thing on Twitter. I post a lot of that stuff from my farm, especially on Twitter, that's at @BuehlerFarm. I'm on Instagram, that's @buehlerbrett. I don't do as much Instagram as I ought to, but I'm working on it. I'm working on it.
Morgan Seger (33:37):
Well, we always appreciate it when you share stuff. It always seems memorable for some reason. So thanks for all of the work you're doing.
Brett Buehler (33:44):
You bet. And I love it. And I think that helps everyone else love it too, is when I'm passionate about it, it flows through, makes it interesting, and is valuable too.
Morgan Seger (33:54):
I do. It's all authentically happy, every time we see it, which I love. Well, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast today, and I hope you have a great rest of your harvest.
Brett Buehler (34:07):
Yeah. Thanks for having me, and I always love being on your show.
Morgan Seger (34:12):
Cab to cab, season to season, there's only one way to do it all on your farm. Ag Leader It. Ag Leader offers the complete package of year-round precision farming tools to help you steer it, plant it, apply it, harvest it, and manage it more efficiently and profitably. For every farm and every field activity, Ag Leader It. Contact your local Ag Leader dealer or visit agleader.com for more information.
Morgan Seger (34:37):
Thanks for tuning in to another episode of Precision Points, and thank you to Brett and Ag Leader for taking the time to walk us through some of these new technologies and the impact that they can have on growers like us. If you're interested in following Brett on social media, he's @BuehlerFarm on Twitter, and that's B-U-E-H-L-E-R, Farm. Ag Leader has also been doing a really great job sharing information and resources on their website, so if you're interested in learning more, go to agleader.com. As always, the show notes for this episode will be available at precisionagreviews.com, and there you can find links to those clips and other pieces of information we talked about throughout our interview. While you're there, feel free to leave a grower review yourself. We love getting feedback from growers like you who are using these applications in real life. Until next time, this has been the Precision Points podcast. Let's grow together.
Thanks for tuning in to today's episode. To hear more podcasts like this, please rate, review, and subscribe to Precision Points. Visit precisionagreviews.com for show notes from this episode, and read expert advice on the blog. Share your experience with the precision ag products you use, and check out our network of farmer reviews. Let's grow together.