Farmers striving to reduce planter pinch row compaction should look at these 5 emerging technologies to help maximize their yield across all their rows.
It’s true: farm equipment is larger (and heavier) than ever before. Driven by the need to plant, harvest, and till acres efficiently while battling the weather, equipment manufacturers have brought massive machines to market to help us get the crop in and out of the ground as quickly as possible. But there’s a big downside to today’s large equipment: weight. Since spring planting is just around the corner, it’s a good time to discuss pinch row compaction—what it does to your crops and, potentially, your bottom line.
Pinch row compaction is a by-product of today’s large center-fill planters. The weight of the seed and the bulk of the planter is centered over the transport tires, which are often heavy-duty tires sourced from the bus and semi truck world. The “pinch rows” are the center six rows beside the transport tires and beneath the center of the planter. On a 24-row planter, this means that 25% of the rows are pinch rows. Compaction from the weight of the machine cuts yields by making it harder for oxygen, water and nutrients to reach plant roots. Pinch rows often curb root development as well.
However, when we in the ag industry see a problem, we find solutions. There are several strategies you can use to combat pinch row compaction on your farm.
Planter Hydraulic Weight Transfer Systems
These systems work to better distribute the weight of the planter across the entire planter bar. They transfer weight from the center of the planter to the wings with a hydraulic cylinder on each side that adds downforce to the wings, thus taking pressure off the heavy center planter section. For example, Kinze’s hydraulic weight transfer system reduces the center section weight from approximately 6,000 pounds to 2,250 pounds. These systems also help the planter’s wings stay in the ground for a more uniform planting depth.
After-Market Planter Tracks
If you pull a John Deere 1770NT or 1775NT planter, track maker Soucy offers a track system that you can install in less than three hours. This system doesn’t require any other planter modifications and, according to a study by Ohio State University, can increase yields by up to 10 bushels per acre over a similar planter equipped with stock tires. Tracks distribute the planter’s weight over a larger area and don’t dig ruts or form berms when turning on headlands. With tracks, you can confidently load your planter to the manufacturer’s maximum weight rating.
IF/VF Planter Tires
Firestone and Alliance currently have IF (increased flexion) and VF (very increased flexion) tires on the market or in the works for the planter market. An IF tire can handle the same amount of weight as a regular tire, but at 20% lower air pressure. With a VF tire, you can drop the pressure a whopping 40%. These tires also feature a soil-friendly, wider tread arc for a larger contact area. A bigger tire footprint means less pressure per square inch on those critical middle pinch rows of the planter.
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Central Tire Inflation System
We at NTS Tire Supply tell customers all the time—running the correct pressure for the type of tire, load, and field conditions is absolutely critical for getting the most benefit from your tire investment. Precision Inflation LLC designs and builds central inflation systems for agricultural equipment, including planters. With a central inflation system, you can adjust your planter (and tractor) tire pressures for changing field conditions at the push of a button without leaving the cab. Set a higher pressure for road travel, then lower the pressure for field work, and lower it further as the planter empties. The result? A substantially larger tire footprint and less compaction in the field without changing your tires.
TrackTill® by Yetter
TrackTill® uses 10-inch ground-driven tines to fracture the compacted soil tracks left behind the transport tires. Supported by an adjustable hydraulic down pressure system, TrackTill either bolts directly to your planter or is attached with a bar kit. An Iowa State University study has shown an 8 bushel increase in the center rows and a 6.5% increase in corn plant height when the TrackTill is used.
Don’t Forget Your Tractor
Whether it’s IF/VF tire technology or LSW super singles, tractor tire technology has never been more exciting. Okay, maybe exciting isn’t the right word, but when we start talking about solid performance in wet field conditions, less compaction, more secure handling, and greater fuel economy, we think that there's a reason to be excited. Avoiding compaction pitfalls is one way to higher yields and productivity.
Every farm is unique, which is why NTS Tire Supply offers a comprehensive range of farm tire and track solutions. Give us a call or drop us a line to inquire about tracks, IF/VF tires, Goodyear LSW super singles and other compaction-fighting solutions for your planter or planting tractor this spring.