Kinze has announced it is working on a prototype planter that will allow producers to load two different seed hybrids and switch back and forth between them while on the go. When making a field pass, the planter’s controller uses information from a prescription map to select and meter out the appropriate hybrid seeds where they are best suited to the localized growing conditions.
Here’s how their press release describes it: “Multi-hybrid technology provides farmers with the ability to change the seed hybrid they are planting automatically as the planter moves through the field. Instead of selecting an average seed variety for use across an entire field, seed hybrids can be selected and automatically planted to suit different field management zones.”
For example, in parts of a field with high productivity soil a higher performing seed variety can be used, whereas a “workhorse” seed variety can be used in less productive areas. Or in fields with poor drainage, a variety that can handle moisture can be planted in the lower areas, with a more productive variety used in field locations with a higher elevation.
“The electric multi-hybrid planter will allow farmers to maximize yield in every part of their field, and not have to make compromises,” said Rhett Schildroth, senior product manager at Kinze Manufacturing. “The yield gains in our trials varied from two bushels per acre to more than 10 bushels per acre by utilizing multi-hybrid planting. And unlike other crop practices that seem to have good results one year and negative results the next, every trial we’ve conducted with multi-hybrid planting has resulted in a yield increase.”
The multi-hybrid concept planter uses new row units, each equipped with its own pair of seed metres. Both meters drop their hybrids into a common, single seed tube. The row unit gauge wheels, openers, and closing wheels are identical to a standard Kinze 4000 Series row unit.
The concept planter also uses electric drive to improve accuracy and to accommodate the new technology.
“This (planter design) was only possible by using the new electric drive option on the Kinze 4000 Series meters. By eliminating the drive chain and clutch, we were able to orient the meters close together so that they feed a single seed tube,” said Schildroth. “It is a very elegant way to add the multi-hybrid planting capability.”
Kinze has built a few prototypes for the 2014 seeding season and will be partnering with some farmers for further field trials across the U.S. Midwest. Expect to hear more from the company later in 2014, after that round of field trials concludes.