After the ground is tilled and the seed bed prepared, it’s time to plant! Normally, Alan and Brian don’t start planting corn until April 20, but this year they started on April 6! This field was planted on April 9.
This is a 40-foot long, 16-row planter for corn. Actually, it can be used to plant soybeans, too, but here it’s being used for corn.
Corn is planted in rows 30 inches apart. Soybeans are planted in rows 15 inches apart. On this planter, half of the row units (every other one) can be lifted up out of the way and not used. This way the farmer can use the same piece of equipment to plant corn (using every other row unit, planting rows every 30 inches) and to plant soybeans (using every row unit, planting rows every 15 inches).
The first thing a farmer does when he plants a field is plant one or two rounds around the outside of the field. Then he goes back and forth to plant rows across the rest of the field. Here, Brian has reached the edge of the field with the planter. The working row units are lifted out of the ground so he’s not planting more seed in the outside rows where he has already planted corn.
This planter has two types of bulk tanks. The one in the front (to the left of the photo) has liquid starter fertilizer. The two tanks in the back (to the right of the photo) are the bulk tanks for the seed.
Each row unit has its own individual hopper. The bulk tanks keep these hoppers full. This corn is purple because it has a coating on it that will protect it against insects (insecticide). Most corn is pre-treated with an insecticide or a fungicide (kills fungus). This helps to protect the new seeds against any bugs that might be around ready to eat the corn seeds or fungus that might be in the moist ground.
This planter works on a vacuum system. The disk you see in the photo below has holes that will each fit one seed. There is a steady vacuum pressure inside the disk, and as the disk spins, it picks up one seed from the small hopper into each hole. As the disk continues to spin, one seed at a time will fall out and be planted. This ensures that the seeds are planted an equal distance apart throughout the whole field.
This is the view of the row unit from the back. The seed drops out in front of these two disks, and the white tube dispenses a small amount of starter fertilizer right on top of the seed. Then these two disks cover the seed and the fertilizer, and it’s done!
Here’s a view from the front, as the planter is moving. There is a fluted disk (like we saw on the tiller) that opens a groove in the soil for the seed, then the two angled disks behind cover the seed.
And now for the full picture… check out the planter in action!
Big thanks to Alan and Brian Douglas, of Douglas Farms in Princeton, Indiana for letting me tag along in the field with them, and for teaching me about corn planting!
Stay tuned to AgriCultured on Facebook and I’ll keep you posted all summer long about how this corn field is growing!