Corn School: How planter tire compaction impacts yield

A properly calibrated planter can make a key contribution to corn yield but could the planter wheels be causing yield-robbing soil compaction?

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs corn specialist Ben Rosser says it’s important for growers to be aware of soil compaction on or around corn rows during planting.

On this episode of the RealAgriculture Corn School, Rosser looks at compaction trials conducted in Ontario’s Oxford County and the Niagara region comparing corn planted into different tire-related compaction environments.  These included planting corn into trafficked rows (planting into planter tire tracks) and non-trafficked rows (where tires travelled between and beside the rows). Yield from rows not near tires was also measured. Story continues after the video.

In their research report, Rosser and research assistant Gia Shelp note very little evidence of compaction impact in Niagara Region trials. Across all fields, there was no significant yield impact of trafficked rows compared to non-trafficked rows. While average yields were different, there was enough background variability that the two tire set-ups yielded crops that were statistically similar.

In Oxford County, however, there was significant differences between rows not near crop tires and rows between crop tires. The researchers say this information is significant because even with tires that do not intercept with the rows, there may still be impact on crop yields. Check out the full research report on Field Crop News.

Rosser notes that the research was conducted using hopper planters to avoid any issues with centre-fill planters and measuring the compaction from the tank. He plans to conduct further trials to further validate the early research findings.

Click here for more Corn School episodes.

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