In researching multi-hybrid planting for on-farm research being conducted in east-central Nebraska this season, the real challenge is getting the correct hybrids in the right spot in the field. That isn't easy, according to University of Nebraska graduate student Rachel Stevens, who is conducting the research with Joe Luck, Nebraska Extension precision-ag engineer.
"In this project, we are looking at both corn and soybeans," Steven says. "For the corn sites, we are looking into placing defensive and offensive hybrids to meet the demands of variable fields, whether that variability comes in the form of soil types, topography or water-holding capacity," she says. "The soybean fields are focusing on seed treatments for sudden death syndrome, so we are using a Bayer product called ILeVO to place only in the portions of the field that typically exhibit signs of SDS."
Stevens says that choosing varieties can be tricky. "It's important to pick hybrids you think fit the variability represented in that management zone," she says. "Working closely with your seed dealer is very important to make sure you are selecting a hybrid suited to zone conditions and with traits desired for the offensive or defensive style you are aiming for," Stevens explains.
"Offensive and defensive hybrids can be fairly loose terms, as many hybrids are suited to perform well across variable conditions. Consequently, detailed conversations with your seed dealer and crop consultant are important to select hybrids ideal for the zones created."
This year's research includes 400 acres of corn and 300 acres in soybeans, planted with a Kinze 4900 multi-hybrid planter in cooperators' fields in Saunders and Dodge counties. The other challenge with using this technology is coming up with the proper seeding prescription maps to get the correct varieties in the right location in each field to make a difference in yield and, ultimately, producer profits.