Sunday, February 6, 2011

To Drill or Not To Drill


To drill or not to drill, that is the question for many farmers. The seeding drill was one of the first planters to revolutionize modern agriculture. I remember the old McCormick drill on the farm as a boy replaced by the Superior Seed Drill which became a part of Oliver Farm Machinery. We planted many a crop with that drill.

I used the new Oliver Superior Drill in the 70's to teach my students seeding at the Blanchester FFA Farm. Deere revolutionized no-till seeding with their famous 750 drill around 1990. After RoundUp Ready soybeans were introduced, notill soybean planting became the number one way to raise soybeans.

Then Mr. Kinzenbaw had his little debacle with Deere and brought out the famous Kinze Interplant system and 15 inch precision soybean row planting took out many notill drills. It's been an interesting revolution.

I had farmers who Martinzed the corn part of the 15 inch planter and left the pusher rows stock and the beans would always come up quicker in the corn rows. You can't totally Martinize a 15 inch interplanter because you would pile the trash up in the centers. 30 inches is OK to sweep a path clean, 15 inches is too close so people came up with all kinds of ideas how to notill better with a stock 15 inch row corn soybean planter.

I saw my first 7.5 inch modified notill drill soon after the 750 came out in northern Ohio. The farmer put the Case IH or what we call notill tires on the gauge wheels of the 750 and mounted the spading closing wheel where the stock rubber Deere press wheel was. You could tip toe through heavier ground successfully just like you could with the modifed corn planter.

That's the way we plant here with the modified White corn planter and a modified Deere Air Drill. Les and Brad covered a ton of acres with them early last year and that enabled us to stage our crop before the record wet May we had.

Machinery is so big today that weight is a problem, especially if you are carrying a lot of fertilizer to get that crop off to a healthy early start. Some farmers don't carry fertilizer to reduce the weight issue while others pull nurse tanks with the planter or drill. Every one seems to have their own idea.

The point is any farmer can improve the stock notill drill or planter because we can't go to the manufacturer and buy exactly what we need for each situation yet. It has been well worth the cost of education, parts and labor for us on our farming operation.

Modification is so popular that you even see modified drills and planters sitting on dealer's lots today as farmers trade for newer equipment. That is something you didn't see just ten years ago.

So, trade shows and conferences are in high demand as farmers try to improve their operation and their bottom line. That is why we had another record crowd at the National NoTill Conference in Cincinnati and I expect the same next January in St. Louis.

I wouldn't be surprised to see a big crowd in Harrisonburg, Virginia Tuesday.

Ed Winkle

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