52 / SEEDWORLD.COM DECEMBER 2018 STRATEGY A featured segment designed to share business- critical information to seed-selling professionals. Visit SeedWorld.com to download this department and other tools. The Science Behind Seed Singulation Just how much of an impact do equipment settings, seed treatment adherence and lubricants have on yields? It’s greater than what you might think. Joe Funk jfunk@issuesink.com THERE ARE SEVERAL factors that go into achiev- ing the maximum genetic potential of today’s hybrids and varieties. From a farmer’s perspective, attaining top yield starts when they empty their bag or box of seed into the planter. The precision with which that planter places seed into the soil will help determine the crop’s eventual yield. The role of seed singula- tion involves more than lateral seed placement. Vertical seed position and seed-to-soil contact both affect seedling emergence. Planter mainte- nance and seed coatings also affect seed placement and have a direct yield impact. During the 2016, 2017 and 2018 growing seasons, AGCO Corporation research agrono- mists actively monitored plot locations in the Midwest, plus several locations in Kansas, to examine just how planting affects yield. The study started by looking at downforce con- trol on individual planting units, the depth of planting, seed spacing and residue manage- ment. In 2017, they added in-furrow firming and furrow closing to the mix. The 2018 data analysis is ongoing. “We believe that planting is one of the most critical steps that farmers can do to ensure optimum yields,” says Darren Goebel, AGCO Corporation agronomist and director of Global Agronomy and Farm Solution. “It’s interesting, as a seed agronomist before coming to work at AGCO, I was often called out to look at problems in the field. And now that we’ve done this research, I can certainly say a lot of that could have been attributed to planters, planting practices and even some tillage in the field.” In 2016, the research- ers flagged each hybrid as it was emerging in the field. On the first day when seedlings emerged, the emerged plants were flagged. For the next seven days, newly emerged seedlings were marked with color-coded flags. then one day later, two days later and seven days later. Ears associ- ated with the individual days were harvested and respective yield results were calculated. AGCO 2016 Days of Emergence Study Day of Emergence Corn Yield (bpa) 0 225 +1 213 +2 179 +7 182 “From personal experi- ence, we find if we have a plant that’s one leaf collar behind its neighbors, it will typically only produce about one-half of an ear. And that’s under fairly good conditions,” Goebel says. “If it is two leaf collars behind, it will typically produce no ears. “Anything that emerges more two days later is just a weed. Emergence is incred- ibly important. This is why we did the research to look at those factors that affect even emergence.” Even Emergence Having uniform heat and moisture in the seed zone is critical. If there is variability of residue covering the seed row, it will have an effect on mois- ture and to a lesser extent soil temperature very early in the season. Seed-to-soil content and moisture uptake is another factor of impor- tance. Too much compaction in a row can be a barrier to emergence. “Looking at two years of data, we found that as long as we plant at least 1.5 inches deep all the way through to 3 inches, we get maximum yield,” Goebel says. “When we Sandy Baker of Syngenta. Darren Goebel of AGCO.