Multi-hybrid planting research picking up speed

Down in the Weeds: Central Valley Ag's Keith Byerly discusses the potential for multi-hybrid planting in Nebraska.

Note: You can listen to my conversation with Keith Byerly by clicking on the Soundcloud link above.

Last year, Central Valley Ag kicked off research using a multi-hybrid planter at several locations throughout Nebraska and Kansas. Recently, we caught up with Keith Byerly, Advanced Cropping Systems manager with CVA, on takeaways from the first year of multi-hybrid planting research — including the best way to delineate management zones for different hybrids.

While this includes electrical conductivity as the base layer, as well as elevation and topography, Byerly notes there's a "human element" that goes into the decision process as well — and that includes on-the-ground knowledge of the field.

"In one field, you may decide to put a racehorse hybrid down in the low ground and put a defensive hybrid on your clay hills, or up on your knobs, or whatever your ground type is, and you can go to the next field and the soil's just a little bit different or the terrain's a little bit different, and I need to put that defensive hybrid with a better disease package down in the bottom ground to fight the gray leaf spot, to fight he different diseases we're going to see down there," he explains. "At the end of the day, that human element really kicks in, and means it's not just as easy as pushing a button on your computer or sending it off and letting big data make the decision, because the field conditions can change ever so slightly. But that has a huge effect on how you make those hybrid decisions."

Rather than using a new planter equipped with multi-hybrid capabilities right out of the factory, CVA is using an older planter retrofitted to plant multi-hybrid.

"We talk about taking the planter you have and making it the planter you want – in our case we've got a John Deere 7000 series bar, with 7200 row units on it that we have Precision Planting's vSet Select system on it, and vDrives, and DeltaForce and SmartFirmers," Byerly says.

"We've got all this technology on a bar that's 30-some years old right now," he adds. "If you've got a good bar, there's no limitation to what you can do with the planter you have. We can set it up to do those multi-hybrid things without the investment of that $70,000 or $80,000 that goes into a new bar."

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