Five-Year Row-Unit Downforce Control Study in CornThe study was conducted from 2016 to 2020 on 25 fields* across multiple states in the U.S. that encompassed different soil types, tillage systems, and planting conditions. At each field, three side-by-side treatments consisted of automatic downforce control versus two fixed down pressure settings, heavy or light
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The objective of this study was to measure the yield impact of automatic downforce control using DeltaForce™.
The study was conducted from 2016 to 2020 on 25 fields* across multiple states in the U.S. that encompassed different soil types, tillage systems, and planting conditions. At each field, three side-by-side treatments consisted of automatic downforce control versus two fixed down pressure settings, heavy or light.
Averaged across 25 locations, automatic downforce control increased grain yield by 13 bushels per acre over fixed light downforce and by three bushels per acre over fixed heavy downforce (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Average yield of three different downforce settings across 25 fields from 2016 to 2020. Three treatments consisted of automatic downforce control using DeltaForce™, fixed heavy downforce, fixed light downforce.
Downforce set too light can cause planter row unit bounce and inconsistent depth control leading to uneven emergence and in some cases, reduced final stands. Soil compaction in the row, from applying too much pressure on the gauge wheels, can result in stunted or “hatchet” (Picture 1) root development and stunted plant growth.
Different tillage systems require different amounts of row unit downforce. For example, in one field vertical tillage required more downforce than a field cultivator to reach target seeding depth (Picture 2).
Picture 1 (left): Impact of having too much row-unit downforce. Picture 2 (right): Different tillage practices require different levels of row-unit downforce.
Recommendations & Equipment Solutions:
Massey Ferguson VE Series Planters and Fendt Momentum Planters come standard with the DeltaForce™ downforce control system.
If planting with too little fixed downforce pressure, the average cost of not using DeltaForce™ was $58.50** per acre in this study. If planting with excessive – fixed downforce pressure, the average cost of not using DeltaForce™ was $13.50*** per acre in this study.
*25 sites: 2016 – Galva, IL; Edgewood, IA; Amboy, IN; New Ulm, MN; Jackson, MN; Estelline, SD; 2017 – Ionia, IA; Morning Sun, IA; Judson, MN; Winthrop, MN; New Ulm, MN; 2018 – Bement, IL; Gladbrook, IA; Union City, OH; Falls City, NE; Irwin, IA; Fremont, NE; Madison, WI; Mosinee, WI; 2019 – Mt Hope, KS; Emmetsburg, IA; Wausau, WI; Owensboro, KY; 2020 – Baltic, SD; Stewartville, MN;**Assumes 13 bushels/acre yield increase at $4.50/bushel ***Assumes 3 bushels/acre yield increase at $4.50/bushel
Jason Lee, AGCO Agronomist, North America, AGCO Corporation. Connect with Jason on LINKEDIN.