This is our first year where we operated two of our sprayers with all-wheel steering, and the difference in crop damage caused by sprayer tracks has been eye-opening, to say the least.
I realize that in different parts of the country, such as the Delta, turn rows are not an issue, but on our farm in North Carolina, with smaller, odd-shaped fields, the turn rows can amount to 50% of the total field acreage in some cases. So, we do our best to minimize damage in our turn rows, because we need that part of the field to deliver yield. Earlier this week, I was picking corn on a 95-acre farm that is broken up into four different fields by waterways and a creek. That is considered a pretty nice tract for our area. I picked only the turn rows, the area where the sprayer typically damages a significant area of the crop. The turn rows on this field total 35.4 acres. A huge number. After spending many hours in the combine this fall harvesting corn and soybeans, all three of our operators have noticed the yield difference that they are seeing on the monitor in that second round of turns. We won't know until we get the official yield data, and can compare yield differences from this year versus the last several years, but based on initial observations, I’m expecting to see a 4 to 7 BPA yield advantage depending on field size.
It makes perfect sense as sprayers with all-wheel steering make only two sets of tracks versus the four sets that a two-wheel steering equipped rig makes. And, the turn radius on our all-wheel steering sprayers is extremely tight, allowing us to go from turn row into straight long rows in a smaller area than allowed with the two-wheel steer machines. This significantly reduces crop damage as the all-wheel steer sprayers can turn and be back on straight rows in as little as 20-feet in most cases.
So what’s our row spacing? Do we drive down the row? On our corn, we use 22” rows and on soybeans, we use 20” rows and we always straddle the row. Once in a while, we run over a row but it's not very often. The tire size we use on our Hagie STS12 is a 320/105R54 this is our preferred tire. The taller tire has more ground contact which eliminates compaction and rutting. The New Holland SF300 uses a 320/90R50. These tires on the New Holland are much like the 320/90R46 used on our previous John Deere sprayers as they do not stand up and rut fields.
This is a great example of how a lot of times, yield averages can be influenced by little things that you may not be thinking about. As we frequently say at XtemeAg, there are no silver bullets in farming. It takes looking at every detail to create a profitable farming operation these days.
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East Bend, NC