Planting System to Boost Yields
November 19, 2001
Higher yields could be in store for
peanut farmers, thanks to a new planter and planting pattern designed by
Agricultural Research Service scientists
in Dawson, Ga.
For 72-inch-wide raised beds, runner-type peanut cultivars are normally
seeded at a rate of six seeds per foot in pairs of either single or twin
(double) rows. But ARS agricultural engineer Don Sternitzke and associates
propose staggering the seeds in an offset or diamond-shaped pattern that
accommodates up to 12 rows on each bed.
Data from fall 2001 harvests suggest the method promotes higher yields than
either single- or twin-row patterns by reducing the plants' competition for
sunlight, water and nutrients. At one Georgia test site, for example, diamond
rows averaged nearly 6,400 pounds of uncleaned pods per acre versus 5,300
pounds for twin rows and 5,100 pounds for single rows.
Spacing the plants in a uniform, staggered manner also promotes thicker,
faster-spreading canopies that help keep the soil bed cool, moist and better
protected from erosion. Improved weed control is another benefit. In field
plots, beds planted with diamond rows had 34 percent fewer weeds than beds with
twin rows, according to Sternitzke, at ARS' National Peanut Research Laboratory in Dawson.
Use of the single- and twin-row patterns in peanut fields stems from the
type of planter and peanut digger equipment available to farmers, according to
Sternitzke. But no such equipment exists for handling additional rows, or for a
diamond-row pattern. So, he designed an entirely new type of planter that
creates multiple diamond rows as readily as single and twin rows. To facilitate
harvesting of diamond rows, Sternitzke also invented a new peanut digger that
can unearth pods across a 72-inch bed. Hes now experimenting with a
method of enabling the diamond planter to easily accommodate other large-seeded
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.