Evaluate Your Residue Management: 4 Characteristics of a Quality Seed Bed

The success of your seed bed started with your combine pass last fall. Managing residue and compaction in the fall sets the stage for the 2017 seed bed. A quality seed environment requires four things:

  1. Uniform depth
  2. Uniform moisture
  3. Uniform temperature
  4. Seed to soil contact

Uniform depth
Consistent depth means consistent emergence. One collar delay in emergence means a yield reduction of five bushels. A smooth, level surface is important, but what lies underneath is even more important. Ridges or humps left by last year’s ripper pass will show up this spring as row units roll over loose then compacted soils. By removing the variations in soil density underneath the surface of the soil using technology like 360 BULLET, row units can evenly pass through the field without different levels of resistance.

Uniform moisture
Each corn kernel needs to absorb water equal to 30% of its weight to begin the germination process. Uniformity needs to happen so all kernels can have equal access to water. 360 BULLET fractures about 40% more of the soil with the tillage pass, unlocking the soil’s ability to take in moisture evenly across the soil profile as opposed to standard OEM points. This ensures no matter where the seed is placed, soil moisture is consistent from seed to seed.

Residue in the seed trench can also cause variations in moisture uptake. Fragments of crop residue that sit in the seed trench can wick moisture away from the seed – delaying germination. Sizing residue to a length where it can easily be removed by the row cleaner using 360 CHAINROLL can help reduce both wicking and seedling blights. Tests from 2016 showed that using new technology to enhance additional removal of residue from the seed trench resulted in a 2.5 bushel per acre yield increase. This yield increase came from more consistent ear size and less plants lost or delayed based on emergence timing.

Uniform temperature
The ideal temperature for a corn kernel to germinate is above 50 degrees at a two-inch depth. Any temp below 50 will slow the growing process and cause seed chilling which can delay emergence. The deeper the seed is planted; the less effect direct sunlight and variable surface temperatures have on germination. Generally, seeding depths below 1.5″ provide more stable temperatures throughout the day and night. Ensuring that the seed bed is clear of residue allows the planter to more consistently place the seed at the depth required for stable temperatures.

Seed-to-soil contact
For a kernel to absorb moisture quickly, the soil must be packed firmly around the kernel. 360 CHAINROLL helps minimize residue in the trench to avoid obstructing the kernel. 2016 studies showed a yield increase using 360 CHAINROLL over a chopping corn head, based on the fact that we could establish a more consistent stand using this technology.

As you begin to get this year’s crop in the ground, take notice of the residue and note what you can do to improve residue management for the 2018 crop.