Check Row Planting Auve And Well In Nebraska

by Ron Krupicka

Editor's note: Ron is Codirector with Dennis Demmel for the Small Farm Energy Project at the Center for Rural Affairs in Hartington, Nebraska. This story is about his uncle.

Louis Suchy, 72, has been farming his 320-acre, diversified farm near Niobrara, Nebraska all his life. He has always used a check-row planter for planting his corn. At first he used a horse-drawn check planter. Today, however, he uses a tractor-drawn, two-row, check-row planter he purchased at a local farm sale.

Lauís' first step when planting with a check-row planter is to string a wire with buttons across the field from one end to the other. The wire is laid with just the right amount of slack so that it can be fitted in the guide located on the side of the planter. As the planter is pulled across the field, the wire passes through the checkhead and the buttons which aré set every 40 inches on the wire trip a mechanism that turns the planter plate, allowing either two or three seeds to drop.

Louis has 16-hole plates in his planter which will drop three kernels to a button. But he feels that moisture is a limiting factor in his area and three kernels per hill would increase his plant population to the point where there wouldn't be enough water to supply all the plants. So Louis plants first two kernels, then three kernels in alternating hills. To do this, he has sealed up two holes on each plate by welding them shut.

To plant the corn, the planter is drawn down the row dropping two or three kernels in hills every 40 inches. After planting two or three rounds, the cross check is inspected by digging up about eight cross-rows to see if the check is good. If the check is off, the checkhead can be corrected by making the appropriate adjustments as explained in the instruction manual.

* Ware, J. O. The Hill Planting of Cotton and Checker Cultivation with Large Tillage Instruments. Agricultural Engineering. VoJ, II, no. 5, May 1930.

Trip Row Corn Planter

Check-rtm buttons got their name when metal buttons The checkhead on a check-row planter. The buttons like the one on the left were used years ago. Mo longer trip this mechanism releasing seeds in one spot, resembling a button, the head on the wire to the right Ron Krupkka acts as the tripping mechanism for newer models. Ron Krupitka

Check-rtm buttons got their name when metal buttons The checkhead on a check-row planter. The buttons like the one on the left were used years ago. Mo longer trip this mechanism releasing seeds in one spot, resembling a button, the head on the wire to the right Ron Krupkka acts as the tripping mechanism for newer models. Ron Krupitka

When the edge of the field is reached, the wire is disengaged and the machine is turned around in a figure eight, thus allowing planting as close as possible to the fence line. The wire is moved over two rows and the process is repeated back and forth across the field. The instruction manual states that six rows must be drilled for the end rows, but Louis' figure eight turn has reduced that to four. When he planted with horses, Louis said he could plant right up to the fence iine and, as a result, there was no need to drill the end rows. Also, there was a seat on the horse-drawn planter so that the operator could manually trip the planter to drop the seeds.

Louis noticed that each year the extension service and equipment companies seemed to be promoting a different planting method. He felt that check planting started to decrease when the lister was pushed. When asked why he still uses the check planter, Louts simply replied, "Dad taught me how to cultivate.'1 It is for the same reason that Louis has never been in his fields with herbicides. He has observed that if you don't follow up spraying with weeding, you will still have weeds.

Louis keeps his fields clean by cultivating three times. The first time he follows the planter, the second time he crosses the planter rows at a 90-degree angle, and the third time he follows the planter again because "otherwise it would be mighty rough picking!" He still picks his corn in the ear with a one-row cornpicker and then stores it in his corn crib.

His average yield over the years has been 50 bushels per acre, sometimes 60—without using any commercial fertilizer on his corn.

Plug-mix is a method of seeding which incorporates crop seeds and water into a scientifically blended growing medium which is precision placed in the field with a type of jab planter called a hand plugger. Having y&- to %-cup of loose soil, the seed and compost-nutrient mixture cradles each hill to ensure a uniform, optimum environment for germination and for young seedlings to get off to a good start. It is particularly suited for extensive plantings of most small-seeded vegetable crops.

Advantages of plug-mix seeding over standard seeding methods:

1. A uniform, optimum environment in seed and young seedling zones is provided, along with an adequate, safe level of fertilizer readily available to the seedlings.

2. Plant stands are often better, and seed germination and plant growth are more rapid and uniform.

3. There is no compaction problem with the tilthy plug-mix soil.

4. Fertilizer salt damage during dry periods, and leaching of nutrients during top-water and rainfall are reduced.

5. Fertilizers and seeds are conserved by placement only where needed. This reduces the fertilization of competing weeds.

6. With the automatic plug-mix planter, an economical and successful method of seeding through mulch-covered beds is now available.

Perfecting the plug-mix method involved a joint research project between Cornell University and the University of Florida. Cornell worked on a soil blend while Florida worked on the design of application equipment. Cornell worked with chemicals, but you can arrive at a potent mixture of your own by blending compost, manure, and other organic nutrient sources.

• Reprinted with permission from Fort Pierce Agricultural Research Center Research Report RL 1974-3, by Norman Hayilip, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida.

AMOUNT OF SEED REQUIRED TO OBTAIN AN AVERAGE OF ABOUT FOUR, SIX, OR EIGHT SEEDS IN EACH >/4 CUP OF LOOSE MIX PER HILL

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