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Title: Row-crop planter requirements to support variable-rate seeding of maize

item VIRK, S - Auburn University
item PONCET, A - Auburn University
item MCDONALD, T - Auburn University
item FULTON, J - Auburn University
item Balkcom, Kipling
item ORTIZ, B - Auburn University
item PATE, G - Auburn University

Submitted to: International Conference on Precision Agriculture Abstracts & Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/20/2014
Publication Date: 8/4/2014
Citation: Virk, S.S., Poncet, A., Mcdonald, T.P., Fulton, J.P., Balkcom, K.S., Ortiz, B., Pate, G.L. 2014. Row-crop planter requirements to support variable-rate seeding of maize [abstract]. 12th International Conference on Precision Agriculture.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Current planting technology possesses the ability to increase crop productivity and improve field efficiency by precisely metering and placing crop seeds. Planter performance depends on using the correct planter and technology setup which consists of determining optimal settings for different planting variables such as seed depth, down pressure, and seed metering unit. The evolution of “Big Data” in agriculture today brings focus on the need for quality as-planted and yield mapping data. Therefore, an investigation was conducted to evaluate the performance of current planting technology for accurate placement of seeds while understanding the accuracy of as-planted data. Two studies consisting of 2 different setups on a 6-row, John Deere planter for seeding of maize (Zea mays L.) were conducted. The first study aimed at assessing planter performance at 2 depth settings (2.5 & 5.0 cm) and 4 different down pressure settings (varying from none to high) with planter setup to perform a uniform seeding rate (65185 seeds/ha) at a constant ground speed (7.0 km/hr). The second study focused on evaluating planter performance during variable-rate seeding with treatments consisting of 2 seed metering units (John Deere Standard and Precision Planting’s eSet setups) with 5 different seeding rates (49383, 59259, 69136, 79012 & 88889 seeds/ha) and 4 ground speed treatments (6.0, 7.0, 8.2 & 9.4 km/hr). All treatments were randomized and replicated four times. A data acquisition system was developed for monitoring and logging real-time planting variables such as meter speed and row unit acceleration/vibration with this data tagged using a differential global positioning system (DGPS) receiver in order to create spatial maps. Field data collection for the down pressure study consisted of measuring plant emergence, plant population and seed depth whereas seed spacing, plant population after emergence along with distance and location for rate changes within the field were recorded for the variable-rate seeding study. As-planted data consisting of plant population, seed spacing and meter performance was also recorded using 2 commercially available displays for both studies and analyzed for comparing planter performance based on the actual field data. Crop yield was also measured to evaluate the effect of the different treatments on planter performance. Preliminary results indicated that down pressure impacted crop emergence. Measured seed depth was significantly different from the target depth even though time was spent adjusting the units to achieve the desired. For example, the mean depth for the 5-cm treatment was 3.8-cm in one field and 4.1-cm for another field. Seed depth results indicated variability at times based on field soil conditions which would explain the differences between the target and measured depths. Results from the variable-rate study indicated that seeding rate changes were accomplished within or less than a 1.9-m distance or a quick response time (< 1 sec) regardless of ground speed. This quick response over varying ground speed treatments indicates that current hydraulic drives minimize rate change errors. Row-unit acceleration or ride varied between individual units with one row-unit exhibiting lower ride quality compared to other units and the main toolbar. Planter field performance significantly varied for the two types of metering units. Seed metering unit setup and meter speed (dependent on ground speed and seeding rate) is critical to obtain expected performance of today’s planting technology. The results showed that planter performance is dependent on meter speed, and field performance starts degrading at higher meter speeds (> 38 rpm) for both meter setups. Overall, the eSet meter performed better than Standard John Deere meter setup exhibiting more uniform seed spacing and higher crop yields. The study recommended t