Proper soil density allows for better nutrient and moisture transfer to the seed, according to Bill Hoeg, Case IH Planter Marketing Manager. Hoeg recommends that each seed should have a target soil density of 1.3 g/cm3, 360 degrees around the seed when it’s in the sealed trench.
What planting practices do you use to attain target soil density?
“Target soil density is a combination of soil contact and air space, all allowing for moisture and nutrients to move through the soil,” says Hoeg.
How can farmers achieve target soil density? Hoeg explains, the first thing is to minimize compaction around the seed and have your planter create uniform soil pressure as it plants the seed. The Early Riser system of a narrow cut trench and soil retention grooves in the gauge wheels carry the weight of the planter 1 ¾ inches away from the seed trench wall, creating the softest side wall in the industry. The furrow-forming point repairs the soil density in the bottom of the seed trench, placing the last soil out of the trench back in over the seed and spooning the soil back to the side of the seed, then zipping the trench up from the bottom. Finally, the trench is sealed with a special zero-pressure sealing wheel that reconstitutes the soil beside and over the top of the seed to a similar condition as it was before the opening disk created the trench. This is unique to the Early Riser planter and the improved soil density provides improved moisture and nutrient conductivity to the seed. This system creates a more robust plant root system and, on average, emergence three days faster.
Hoeg continues that the tillage tools you use can make a huge difference.
“For example, in fall tillage, any clod that’s 6 inches or larger can create a hole in the field that can’t be properly refilled, varying both depth and density,” says Hoeg. The Case IH Ecolo-Tiger® 875 disk ripper successfully breaks up compaction but leaves a seed bed that can be managed for uniform emergence and density.
It doesn’t stop there. Disk harrows that are not indexed and have the wrong gang angles can create additional compaction and leave ridges of uncut soil below the surface. These two factors can contribute to planter row unit bounce. The Case IH True-Tandem™ 333 VT eliminates compaction and leaves a flat bottom underneath the soil’s surface, stabilizing planter row unit operation and providing more uniform depth.
A field cultivator draws larger soil particles to the top and places finer soil particles in the seedbed area. This creates better seed-to-soil contact and sets up uniform soil density around the seed. Unfortunately most field cultivator shanks spade through the field, leaving a ridged soil bottom resulting in rough planter row unit ride. Most field cultivators also tend to have poor mixing action, resulting in a non-uniform soil density in the seedbed area. The Case IH Tiger-Mate® field cultivator has a shank that uniformly cuts the soil and has the soil action to create a more uniform soil density. Its flat shank working action leaves a smooth soil plate for more uniform seed depth and stable planter row unit operation.
Proper residue management plays a key role in emergence of your next stand. Find out more about how tillage can help manage residue in this video.
You can learn more about the Case IH Early Riser planter and how it preps the seed for germination in this video.
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To learn more about agronomic considerations at planting and photocopy plants, click here to request a new Agronomic Design Insights report on seedbed conditions.