The Agronomists, Ep 52: Horst Bohner and Doug Moisey on seeders and planters

If you change how you deliver seed to the ground, what else has to change?

From fertilizer planning, to seeding rate, to weed control, the planter vs. seeder decision isn’t as easy as which unit does the most consistent job. To explore considerations for canola and soybeans, and to kick off the 2022 season of The Agronomists, we go to Horst Bohner, soybean specialist with Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and Doug Moisey, agronomist for central Alberta with Pioneer Seeds Canada, a division of Corteva.

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  • The new countdown music, are we for or against? Turn up the funk!
  • OK, now seeders or planters?
  • A focus on canola and soybeans tonight
  • After establishment, how do things change when using a planter versus a seeder?
  • Precision placement, lowering seeding rates, good depth control with a planter, but there’s open discussion
  • Seed clumping, 8 or 9 plants clumped together
  • Planters are a bit slower, and when there’s a lot of acres to get in the ground…
  • Efficiency. Fast, fast, fast says Bohner. Four to five day stretch for planting soybeans
  • Biggest driver in Ontario and most of the U.S. is seed cost. Soybeans is no exception. Add in seed treatments on top of that and precision planting becomes attractive
  • Most planters sold in western Canada are 22 to 36 inch row spacing, and as canola gets more space, it can hinder days to ground cover, which might mean another herbicide application, and then hinders days to maturity
  • Ground cover and time to canopy closure is going to be a big factor with herbicide shortages
  • How much does air flow or velocity contribute to mortality in both canola and soybeans in planters versus drills?
  • Newer drills have a better direct system, but there’s still damage that happens, and fertilizer can act like a “battering ram”
  • Constantly adjusting fan speed. In a paired-row system, and too high a fan speed, could be putting seed down the middle
  • In soybeans, it comes down to seed quality when it’s going down the air drill or conventional drill
  • What are the optimal seeding rates for planters versus drills, based on the same row width?
  • With a planter, canola seed survivability will probably go up… maybe about 75 per cent survivability
  • Depth and speed are utmost for canola
  • The wonder of the soybean… they help each other up (Seed Bohner’s slides)
  • Seeding speed with a lot of moving parts, you can see the seeder rise and fall. Put a 5 gallon pail of water on the end wing of your drill and see how fast it gets emptied
  • The difference between 3, 4, or 5 miles per hour can mean 1/4″ to 1.5″
  • Clip #1: Canola School: Comparing vacuum planter and air seeder results
  • How to get the fertilizer down? Liquid kits and placing away from seed. N broadcast or banded pre-seed.
  • Soybeans don’t generally need as much fertilizer, depending on soil test levels
  • For canola at wider spacing, what kind of delayed maturity is expected? Ideal row spacing is 9 inches
  • How important are row cleaners on a planter for soybeans in no-till?
  • What are canola seed sizes looking like for 2022? Seeds per unit area. Know your TKW and your seed survivability. Make a good assumption that under XXX conditions, I’m getting XX per cent
  • Soybean seed can be bizarre, too
  • Getting a planter ready: are all the discs the same size? Make sure those machines are running top notch because that’s the base for starting your crop off right, agronomically


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