High-Speed Planters Set the Pace

New planters promise to supercharge the planting process, but they also need inputs designed for application at faster rates.
High-Speed Planters Set the Pace
Jason Louks vividly remembers the 2013 planting season. That May, the grower from Blooming Prairie, Minnesota, had just a day and a half to plant his cornfields before the rain came and saturated his fields for several weeks. The unusually long, wet spring kept him out of the fields until June 20. That season, Louks could only plant 15 percent of his acres. He knew something had to change.

“2013 was our driving force,” he says. “We did not have enough time to make a corn crop.”

Like a rising number of growers in the Corn Belt, Louks has invested in a high-speed planter to maximize his time in the field. His goal in 2016 is to reduce his usual 14-day planting season into an eight- or 10-day period.

Time Is Money

“Progressive growers know time is money, and efficiency is one way they can increase their profitability, particularly when commodity prices are lower,” says Meade McDonald, Syngenta product lead.

According to McDonald,

“Progressive growers know time is money, and efficiency is one way they can increase their profitability, particularly when commodity prices are lower.”

Meade McDonald
speed is not the only factor when choosing the right planter. A grower needs a high-speed planter that will enable planting with the same quality, precision and placement, plus handle fertilizers and insecticides as a standard planter does. A standard planter travels 4.5 to 5 mph, while a high-speed model moves across fields at 8 to 10 mph, saving growers both time and money.

“In certain parts of the country, it could dramatically impact harvest,” says McDonald. “For example, growers in southern Minnesota have a compact planting season. If these growers are 10 days or two weeks late planting corn, a freeze in September could prematurely kill the crop. That’s the kind of risk mitigation that high-speed planters can address.”

Of course, almost doubling the speed of the planter will make it more prone to repairs and possibly shorten the machine’s life span. But growers like Louks who purchase high-speed planters are counting on the profits they make from increased crop yields to outweigh the greater equipment costs.

What Goes In

Most of the major agriculture equipment manufacturers—including John Deere, Case IH, Kinze and Horsch—are offering higher-speed planting technologies. But manufacturers of the chemicals that go into these planters also must keep up with the accelerating pace of planting.

To meet growers’ changing needs, Syngenta scientists and formulation experts are continuously developing new chemistries and refining existing products. One example is its line of Force® insecticide brands. For more than 25 years, Force CS liquid insecticide and Force 3G granular insecticide have offered growers outstanding corn rootworm (CRW) and early-season pest control. Even with advanced CRW–traited hybrids, experts don’t see the need for soil-applied insecticides like Force decreasing any time soon.

Kevin Scholl, Syngenta agronomic service representative from Wyoming, Illinois, says Force products are the best options for growers in his area who need to control moderate- to high-infestation levels of CRW. “A large part of Illinois is a high-pressure CRW area, and other liquid products are not able to handle such high pressure consistently,” he says.
Progressive growers know time is money, & efficiency is one way to increase profitability.

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To continue offering Force to growers who have a stronger need for speed and efficiency at planting, Syngenta is developing Force Evo, an easier-to-load liquid formulation, with registration anticipated in time for the 2017 planting season.

“Growers want a product like Force that is high-performing on CRW,” says McDonald. “But they also want a product that is concentrated and easy-to-load for faster planting. This new formulation will offer that.”

Force Evo is a back-to-basics product, according to McDonald, and well-suited for high-speed planters because of its easy-to-load setup, speed and efficiency. Upon registration, this new, simpler formulation will provide easier cleanout, better pumping flowability and more complete emptying of bags. It also will offer the same closed-system packaging as Force CS, will work with existing Force CS equipment and will be compatible with most commonly used starter fertilizers.

Room to Grow

Standard Planters Travel 4.5–5 mph
High-Speed Planters Travel 8–10 mph
“This new formulation gives us room to grow,” says Neill Newton, a Syngenta applications specialist. “It will help us expand and venture into new territory with Force, whether that be through formulation, packaging or the delivery system. With high-speed planters and the Force product, we have the ability to deliver much higher rates, due to the design of the application system and the capacity of the pump.”

Field trials also show that Force Evo provides better root protection than its competitors, including Capture® LFR® insecticide. With better performance and greater convenience, speed and efficiency, Force Evo will be well-suited for unpredictable Midwest springs.

“High-speed planters may be the way of the future,” says Newton. “If so, Syngenta and Force will have no problem keeping up.”