November 12, 2019

Higher Yields Ahead? MaxYield Puts Multi-Hybrid Planting to the Test

20150504_maxyield_284 (1024x681)Any farmer knows that not all fields—or even areas within a field—are created equal. Since there’s no one-size-fits-all corn hybrid or soybean variety that’s right for each management zone, multi-hybrid planting offers the chance for higher yields.

What was once science fiction is becoming reality in 2015 as SciMax Solutions puts this promising technology to the test in clients’ corn and soybean fields.

“We tried multi-hybrid planting last year, and the results whetted our appetite,” said Peter Bixel, SciMax Solutions’ team leader. “We think multi-hybrid planting can bring value to our clients and want to take a closer look at it.”

Multi-hybrid technology provides farmers with the ability to change the seed hybrid they are planting as the planter moves through the field. Instead of selecting an average seed variety for use across an entire field, seed hybrids can be selected and automatically planted to suit different field management zones.

In 2014, MaxYield and SciMax used a six-row planter for multi-hybrid planting on 90 acres. DeKalb also used multi-hybrid planting last year with a prototype 16-row planter on 1,000 acres farmed by SciMax clients.

This spring, SciMax Solutions Specialist Rodney Legleiter used a John Deere 1770 center-fill planter with vSet Select multi-hybrid planting technology from Precision Planting on nearly 1,400 corn and soybean acres on 10 SciMax clients’ farms. The vSet Select technology can plant two hybrids in the same row, switching back and forth as environments change to plant the hybrid that will produce the most in each management zone.

“The vSet Select meters we used on the planter were just released in December of 2014, so this is cutting-edge technology,” Bixel said.

Does it pay?
While a few companies have experimented with multi-hybrid planting in the Midwest, the technology is still in its infancy.

20150504_maxyield_196 (681x1024)SciMax is partnering with WinField® on multi-hybrid planting research in 2015. “This is something SciMax and MaxYield Seed have wanted to do for a long time,” Bixel said. “We have the information to know where specific hybrids should go, based on SciMax and MaxYield Seed data, the Answer Plot® database, and expertise from partner companies.”

The technology doesn’t come cheap. It costs approximately $30,000 to add the multi-hybrid equipment to a 12-row planter. “We want to find out if the technology is worth the investment, especially in these times of tighter margins,” Bixel said. “Past research has shown a yield advantage of nine bushels on corn and three to four bushels on soybeans.”

This spring, the SciMax team worked with MaxYield Seed specialists to write the multi-hybrid planting recommendations. The recommendations can include two hybrids or two soybean varieties. These “prescriptions” told the monitor which of the two planter boxes to draw from as the planter rolled through each field. Getting the data entered into the monitor was an important part Legleiter did before planting.

“It’s all about placing the right hybrid or variety in the right management zone to maximize yield potential,” Bixel said. “There’s no need to plant a defensive hybrid in the high-yield environment of an A zone, for example, but this hybrid would be a good fit for the C zone, where the soil tends to be lighter and sandier.”

Technology requires more management
While SciMax is interested in multi-hybrid planting for corn, the technology might be especially useful to boost soybean yields. “With the pH, disease, and soybean cyst nematode issues we have throughout northern Iowa, we think multi-hybrid planting might have a significant impact on soybean yields,” Bixel said.

While SciMax’s 2014 multi-hybrid planting trials generated promising results for corn and soybeans, the technology isn’t for everyone. “It requires more attention to detail, so you need to be willing to manage for higher yields,” Bixel said. “We’re here to help you combine the technology, seed selection, and information management to help you get the job done.”

Few companies offer this level of service. In addition, SciMax will share the 2015 results from the multi-hybrid planting trials during grower meetings this winter. “Our goal is to stay two to three years ahead of the competition and see more in your fields,” Bixel said. “Stay tuned for more details.”

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