Optimize Yield with a Great First Pass

Floating Row CleanerControlling organic matter or residue to prepare an ideal seed furrow is crucial for attaining optimal seed emergence. Essentially, the planter pass is key to optimizing yield potential for each corn plant.

There are a few planter attachments to consider for controlling residue. Some planters may come equipped with “fixed” row cleaners that control the depth of residue removal using a manual pin or screw adjustment. This option is better than nothing, but one undesirable feature is that you must get out of the tractor cab to make an adjustment to fit the changing conditions when the contour of the field changes. If you have rolling farm ground, this can become a very tedious process. It’s also important to ensure you aren’t disturbing topsoil while removing necessary clods or residue.

Another option is “floating” row cleaners, and this is my recommendation. The benefit of a floating versus fixed row cleaner is when the contour of the field changes, it adjusts to the changing conditions. This option assures that you are only removing residue and minimally disturbing topsoil.

If you make the investment in floating row cleaners for your planter, take a couple of extra steps to ensure you’re clearing a wide enough path to let the gauge wheels run within the furrow. You could add treader wheels, which attach to the outsides of the row cleaners, to provide optimal depth control. Although your row cleaners may be floating, it’s critical they don’t dig too deep. 

To really dial in your row cleaners as you make your pass through the field, add air adjust cylinders to each row cleaner. This allows you to adjust your row cleaners from the cab. Since it’s easy, you will adjust when you should. To make a pressure adjustments with those air cylinders, move the lever in the cab to apply lift-pressure or down-pressure to the cylinders, so they clean the way you want. You can choose to be more aggressive or to run lighter. Making such adjustments prevents seedling diseases as well as late emergence from heat and moisture loss. It also prevents nutrients from being tied up by residue.

The most important pass made in the field is the first pass with the planter. If we don’t get this correct, the rest of the management practices we apply throughout the season aren’t effective and will hinder return on investment (ROI). 

Working with trusted advisors and a cutting-edge precision ag platform allows you to monitor ROI. A precision ag program like Latham’s Data Forward helps you track crucial investments to your operation. We want to be a resource for you when it comes to making precision ag decisions. Give Latham’s Precision Agronomy Advisors a call to implement performance benchmarking, on-farm trials, and reporting, or to evaluate ROI before making significant investments in your precision equipment.