Four farmers who use Raven products and who farm relatively large acreages in Iowa and South Dakota all say they want it: the ability to switch from one hybrid to another on-the-go across the field. That's because all have enough variation in soil type that they believe it would pay. One has irrigation, the others have little or no irrigation.
The farmers also believe that seed companies have enough data to determine where certain hybrids will do best and at what populations. They think it's an idea whose time may come quicker than many think.
Raven Industries prides itself on listening to challenges and coming up with solutions, company vice president Mark Burkhart noted during the Raven Summit this week in Sioux Falls, S.D. Raven heard farmers calling for such on-the-go capability, and has worked with partners to develop a patent-pending system that could allow farmers to program in variable rate populations for those hybrids.
Raven is working with Pete Sexton, with South Dakota State University. Sexton in turn is working with DuPont Pioneer to pick hybrids and populations. Currently they have multiple trials out for both corn and soybeans at university farms in South Dakota to test the concept on both corn and soybeans.
"The seed is in the ground," he says. "We'll see what happens."
South Dakota State was key in taking a twin-row Monosem planter and working with Raven so that it can be programmed to make switches on the go, Raven spokespersons say. Since it's a twin-row planter, with a different hybrid in each box in the pair, the offset when it switches from one hybrid to the next is only about four inches. This will allow for easy harvest with standard equipment.
The point at the summit was that the technology is here. What's needed is confirmation that it pays and is something farmers can afford to invest in on their farms.