One year ago we looked for answers to how fast should you plant through a trial sponsored by Farm Progress Companies and Precision planting, Tremont, Ill. The study was conducted at the Throckmorton Research farm, part of the Purdue University farm system, in Tippecanoe County. We compared 4, 5 and 6 miles per hour in planting speed.
What we found was what we expected, and at the same time, not what we expected at all. There was a statistical difference between 4 and 5 miles per hour, with 4 being more accurate, at spacing than 5 and 6 miles per hour, with 5 miles per hour being more accurate than 6. We based our judgments on stand counts and spacing counts between plants so we could run standard deviation on the distance between plants.
The only problem was that there was no yield difference. In fact, 4 miles per hour produced the lowest yield, although it was not statically lower than the other two- barely.
This year, the study is underway again. This time we've included 7 miles per hour. And we also installed a Precision Planting Seed Sense 20/20 monitor on the planter. It displays the number of doubles and skips on the go, plus gives an estimated singualtion rate.
As you go faster, the number of skips and doubles increases, and singulation drops, notes Pete Illingworth, who drove the tractor this year. He also discovered that large round seed held down the singulation rate a touch on the entire plot, compared to where he had been planting smaller seed.
When Illingworth went to 7 miles per hour, it looked like he was taking off at a tractor pull. Jokingly, he turned his hat around backwards, to look like a speedster.
"After a bit, the monitor went nuts,' he says. "It was showing skips and doubles all over the place. And the singulation dropped below 90%. I will be anxious to see what those plots look like. I really think we got high enough to see differences.
"When you're driving it, you can use the monitor as a guide to know how fast you should be planting. If you're not getting the singulation you want, or if you're getting too many skips and doubles, then you know you need to make a change somewhere in the planting process."