Plant 2015: Tips for a successful start

Spring is upon us – trees are budding, flowers are blooming and you’re itching to get in the fields. Before planting gets into full swing, here are four tips for a successful start to the 2015 growing season.

1. Complete equipment calibration
Before getting into the fields, complete all necessary equipment checks. Make sure your planter has accurate depth control and seed placement. It’s important to calibrate these systems every spring because they can change year-to-year. Also, calibrate your liquid fertilizer metering system and ensure orifices and nozzles are clear and operating with the right pressure for accurate flow rates.

2. Prepare a quality seed bed
Similar to fall tillage, wet conditions during spring soil preparation can lead to compaction. Be mindful of tillage passes so you create a quality seed bed. Compaction can be detrimental to root growth, water infiltration, yield potential and overall soil health. If you have compaction issues that can’t be remedied, consider hybrids that have a root system able to penetrate tight soils along with the other characteristics you desire.

3. Practice patience
We’re all eager to get in the fields. But, if soil temperatures are too low or cold weather is on the way, hold off. I keep a soil thermometer with me in my truck and monitor soil temperatures throughout spring to ensure our soil is ready for planting. Don’t be tempted to plant early. Be prepared to flex with mother nature. Margins are too tight to have to do it again or lose yield potential due to less than ideal conditions.

Do you have any tips for spring preparation? Share them on our Facebook page. And, click here for tips on smarter nitrogen management.


Photo of a downforce map from spring 2014. The farmer did a vertical tillage pass to level the seed bed. The red areas of field are where there was too much downforce, creating sidewall compaction for the corn plants. Excessive downforce was needed to maintain depth when crossing tractor wheel tracks.