Exclusive, expanded Farm Progress Discovery Plots are now in the ground. These plots are an attempt to push back the yield barriers standing in the way of those who want to go beyond 200 bushels per acre of corn.
With Precision Planting, Tremont, Ill., as a sponsor, three different trials were planted at two different locations in the Midwest. One set was planted near the 2004 Farm Progress Show site, Alleman, Iowa, with a small demonstration set actually planted on the site. It will be accessible to show visitors. Alleman lies between Des Moines and Ames in central Iowa. The same farmers hosted the show in 1987, one year after the complete washout on their farms, and in 2002. This year's show moves up one month from historic dates, and will be held Aug 31 through Sept. 2.
The second set was planted on May 7 near West Lebanon, Ind., about two miles east of the Illinois/Indiana state line. Scott and Nancy Clark, Cloverleaf Farms, West Lebanon, Ind., one of the 2003 Farm Progress Show hosts, provided the land for this year's location.
The trials are managed and planted by John McGillicuddy and Karen Corrigan, of Milliguddy Corrigan Agronomics. McGillicuddy is based out of Iowa City, Iowa. Corrigan operates from Bloomington, Ill.
Three separate trials make up the plots at each location. There are minor differences in protocol based upon site. The Indiana plots include:
Starter fertilizer trials, with starter vs. starter with zinc, vs. starter plus boron applied later.
"Zinc and boron could become an issue once you shoot for yields above 200 bushels per acre in a high-yield environment," McGillicuddy says. "That's what we want to find out."
Tillage comparisons include fall-chiseled land that was then finished before planting with either a full-width field cultivator, a field cultivator with only 60% of the soil touched by sweeps, or a To The Max harrow.
Even though the soil was relatively dry, there were differences both in appearance and firmness after these tools ran. The harrowed plots were smoothest, but also firmest. This harrow operates at 10 miles per hour, at only one to two inches of depth. The full-width field cultivator plots were softest. Modified sweep plots fell in between.
Row width variations of 20-inch and 30-inches were tried. The 20-inch concept for corn is gaining popularity, and is already popular in parts of the upper Great Lakes regions.
Look for further updates as the crops emerge.