A little while back, Beck’s Hybrids and Kinze began working together on a project exploring the benefits of variable hybrid planting. The collaboration brought together proven leaders in seeds (Beck’s) and row-crop planters (Kinze), as we endeavored to develop a system for planting multiple hybrids in a field.
Kinze engineers customized a 16-row variable hybrid prototype planter for Beck’s to use in their 2013 field trials. For this we utilized a Kinze 3600 twin-row planter, converting half of the row units to plant one hybrid and the other row units to plant a second hybrid.
Then we added custom electronics to turn the row units on and off automatically as the farmer goes through the field. The electronics proved to be the biggest hurdle, as everything had to be customized for variable hybrid planting. Of course, the bigger the challenge, the more motivated our engineers are to innovate a solution, and we were able to develop a responsive system. Ag Leader components were utilized and we received great support from them on this project.
The early results are extremely positive. Beck’s Hybrid will be publishing the results of their field trials later this year, and from the data I’ve seen so far, people should really be impressed. Unlike other technology studies that show results going up one year and down the next, variable hybrid studies so far have always shown an improvement over just planting one hybrid per field.
And it makes sense why it should. After all, it’s a rare field that has only one soil type or elevation. What is interesting is that as I travel across the Midwest, the reason to do variable planting varies. In Iowa, it has a lot to do with the different soil types. In South Dakota, it has more to do with the elevation and what parts of the field are wet for most of the year. But while the reasons may change, it makes sense that wherever you go, yield can be improved by planting multiple hybrids in a field.
In this video, Jason Webster from Beck’s Hybrids talks about the benefits of variable hybrid planting and shares more information about the project. Give it a look!