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.
Upgrades for emergence
The 25-year no-till veteran has modified his planter to help assure excellent seedbed and even crop emergence.
“The last time I bought a new corn planter, the first thing I did was rip it apart,” he says. “It’s kind of like racing. Are you going to race with a stock car, or a modified car to get the most out of it?”
To produce the best no-till seedbed, he uses spiked Yetter row cleaners ahead of planter units, as well as spiked closing wheels with square-link drag chains. Yetter closing wheels, which run outside the trench wall, push and lightly firm soil into the seed trench.
“The better the seed-to-soil contact you have, the faster the seed can germinate, and the more uniform the germination,” says Wolfskill.
Even germination is critical for top yields, he says. “You have a germination window of 18 to 24 hours,” he says. “Plants that emerge outside that window are competition and don’t contribute to yield, so getting it right is important for maximum yield.”