David Wolfskill has concluded that increasing applications of major nutrient on his soils may not be the answer to higher yields. So, in his quest for higher productivity, he is testing non-traditional products that he hopes could unlock more yield potential.
In 2013, he tested BioForce, a root-growth stimulator in side-by-side trials. Wolfskill concluded that it increased hairy roots by 30 to 50%. Yield was up 6 bushels per acre.
“One thing we all know, after a point, more N, P and K does not make more corn,” he says. “We are at the limit. Knowing that, we are going to foliar feeds, root stimulants and growth stimulants to see what works. We are just getting into these biologicals. We ran various products across all our corn and soybean acres in 2013. And we verify that these products work.”
David Wolfskill tears down and rebuilds his planter every winter to make sure it operates at its best. He’s added spiked row cleaners and spiked closing wheels with square-link drag chains to boost its no-till performance.
Every winter, as he finalizes seed, fertility and pest management programs for the following spring, David Wolfskill takes to his shop to perform a task that’s equally critical for top corn yields. He strips his planter down to the frame and rebuilds it.
“Having your planter set up 110% is what is required for top yields,” says Wolfskill, who harvested 220 bushels of corn/acre across his farm near Wernersville, in south-central Pennsylvania, in 2013. “Every corn planter and brand is different, but they all have the ability to perform at that level.”
As he dismantles his 16-row White air planter, Wolfskill examines planter units piece by piece to makes sure everything is straight. Worn-out bushings on linkages get special attention. “If something is bent or a bushing is worn, the planter unit won’t pull straight,” he says.
If units don’t pull straight, you can forget about accurate seed placement, says Wolfskill, whose 307 bushels/acre yield placed second in the Region A No-till/Strip-till Non-Irrigated Class National in NCGA’s 2012 National Corn Yield Contest.
“We are very adamant about seed placement. For every inch of average deviation in your seed placement, you lose 2.5 bushels per acre.”
In addition to making sure his planter works precisely, he says it’s important to know what seed sizes and shapes work best for a particular planter. “With my planter, I only plant medium and large rounds.”