Precision Planting Versus Drilling Soybeans in North Carolina
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We are starting to get a few phone calls about the advantages of precision planting soybeans in North Carolina over the more traditional method of drilling soybeans. We have been investigating this in small plots since 2021 across North Carolina in a project led by our research technician Dwight Cauthen.
In these studies, we have compared precision planting soybean to drilling soybeans in three different maturity groups (4, 5, and 6) at five different seeding rates (75,000, 100,000, 125,000, 150,000 and 175,000 seeds/A). These trials were planted in mid-May at 4 Coastal Plain locations from 2021-2022. When you combined over environments, there was minimal differences between the two planting mechanisms and their effect on yield across maturity groups. The MG6 soybeans did trend towards having a yield penalty when precision planted (Figure 1). There was no interaction of seeding rate and planting mechanism on yield in this study, meaning that regardless of seeding rate planting mechanism did not impact yield. At one environment, the MG4 that was precision planted outyielded the MG4 that was drilled across all seeding rates (data now shown). This was a high yield environment and presumably due to more branching capacity at uniform spacing. We are interested in exploring the interaction of branching capacity and planting mechanism more deeply in the future.
We did measure soybean emergence after planting in these studies and generally precision planting led to more rapid emergence than drilling soybeans, however ultimately planter type did NOT impact final soybean stand or soybean plant height.
Recent work conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison showed that precision planting only provided yield advantages at very low populations (40,000 seeds/A).
Based on the results we have obtained from our recent trials in North Carolina coupled with results from other US regions, we have not seen data that would indicate precision planting soybeans will provide yield advantages across many production scenarios. However we have seen some interesting results in this dataset that warrant more investigation in our environment.