Note: You can listen to my conversation with Joe Luck and Rachel Stevens by clicking on the audio link above.
Multi-hybrid planters have been the focus of a number of ag headlines since Kinze unveiled its concept electric multi-hybrid planter in 2013. Starting in the 2016 cropping season, Rachel Stevens, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate student, has been working with a Kinze 4900 multi-hybrid planter as part of a Nebraska On-Farm Research study to test out this new technology and how it can be put to use.
In the latest Nebraska Notebook, we visited with Rachel Stevens and Joe Luck, Nebraska Extension engineer to learn the latest on this new technology. In previous studies at South Dakota State University, researchers have compared hybrid placement for defensive and offensive hybrids, and Stevens notes she's looking at similar concepts, and taking the research a step further this year.
"We're looking at a similar concept, looking at how do we place a defensive hybrid and an offensive hybrid in the field. That's on the corn side," says Stevens. "We're also looking at using this for soybeans. On that side, we're looking at soybean diseases, like sudden death syndrome, and how we can place a specific seed treatment in portions of the field that are going to need it the most."
The challenge is determining optimal varieties to plant on the right acre, and that includes collecting the right data to delineate management zones.
"It usually takes multiple years of field studies to get a good idea how this kind of tech is going to pay back. In the past I think people jumped in with both feet when it came to variable-rate seeding, and a lot people did variable-rate fertilizer before really understanding how to do that effectively," adds Luck. "I think today people are much more patient with new techs. Whether it's multiple hybrid planters or crop canopy sensors, people want to see multiple years of a study, and they want to see how it's going to work out to make that investment, which can be considerable. In the case of the type of planter we're working with and similar systems, it' probably 10% or 20% of the purchase price of the equipment."