Visitors were able to see how uneven depth changes the distance for a seedling to exit the ground and reach sunlight
AGCO, Your Agriculture Company, a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment, welcomed commercial and emerging farmers to its Zambia Crop Tour focused on educating growers in ways to enhance crop yield through improved management and agronomy practices at planting.
Staged at the AGCO Future Farm in Lusaka, VIP guest at the event was the Honorable Given Lubinda. Zambia’s Minister of Justice, a farmer himself and a former Minister of Agriculture.
The highly-successful Crop Tour covered the complete science of maize production, from soil quality characteristics and tillage systems to factors affecting corn growth and development and the use of equipment and technology. Practical demonstrations were at the heart of the day-long event. Test plots of maize were planted at the AGCO Future Farm in December 2018 to enable Crop Tour visitors to evaluate how different approaches to agronomy, planting, equipment settings and usage affect growth and yield. A freshly-dug soil pit provided the focus for the discussion of soil quality and root systems.
A priority was to highlight the issues associated with the application when planting of too much down force and too little down force, plus the effects on seed planted at different depths and the consequences of poor seed singulation and over-population of seed. Visitors were able to see how uneven depth changes the distance for a seedling to exit the ground and reach sunlight. As a plant gets to the surface and beats its neighbor out of the ground, it will out compete its slower emerging neighbor for vital resources like sunlight, water and nutrients in the soil. We have found that plants emerging later will produce significantly less yield because of competition. Precise placement is similar: two plants being too close together create competition for vital resources. If they are both competing in a small area, they are not able to maximize their yield potential.
One of the test plots planted with a Massey Ferguson planter equipped with DeltaForce, for example showed a 7% improvement in maize yield compared to planters equipped with spring or airbag downforce systems.
We want to equip farmers with the very best knowledge in order that they can apply it to their own enterprises and get the most from their crops
In another trial, participants learned how important it is to avoid skips and doubles, terms used to describe planter mistakes resulting in misplaced seeds. If just 5% of seeds get skipped, growers will lose approximately 5% in yield. On the other hand, doubles typically do not cause dramatic yield loss, instead they represent wasted seeds. AGCO’s Massey Ferguson planter equipped with Vset meters from Precision Planting achieved 99% seed singulation in the field trials.
Darren Goebel, AGCO Director – Global Agronomy and Farm Solutions based in the United States, who has been advising growers for 15 years, took a key role in the event. “The Crop Tour is one of AGCO’s unique initiatives focused on demonstrating best-practice agronomy and aimed at finding ways to improve crop yields using new innovative agricultural machinery solutions. Our field demonstrations analyze how growers can better understand the role of agricultural equipment in optimizing crop production systems. We want to equip farmers with the very best knowledge in order that they can apply it to their own enterprises and get the most from their crops.”
“Farmers pay very close attention to the selection of hybrids, fertilizers and crop protection products,” he adds. “This same scrutiny is required for tillage, planting and sprayers. Ensuring machinery does its job as precisely as possible has a big impact on yield outcome.”
Massey Ferguson planters are available from two rows up to thirty six rows and working widths from 45cm up to 27.36m. Planting solutions include monitors, sensors and meters which can be retrofitted to existing equipment. These hi-tech precision systems contribute to better seed spacing, better depth control and better root systems, all of which increase yield potential.
Further AGCO Crop Tour events will take place in South Africa in May 2019.