Most agricultural crops benefit from specific placement of the seed with regard to depth, spacing and per acre seeding rates. Traditionally, Michigan farmers have not practiced precision planting with winter wheat.
The projects funded by MI Wheat in this category have looked at precision placement vs. traditional drill planting vs. broadcast seeding to determine rates of tillering, consistency of maturity and other parameters. The research is still somewhat in its infancy, with four years of trials not entirely conclusive.
Wheat growers should review this reports and make conclusions for your own farm and preferred seed varieties.
Research by Dr. Maninder Singh, Wheat Specialist Dennis Pennington and Graduate Student Patrick Copeland
In the fourth and final year of this precision planting project, principle investigator Dr. Singh and his team completed their main objectives of comparing seed placement for precision vs. traditional drill planter vs. broadcast seeding. And to consider seed rates for broadcast-type seeding.
The research was funded jointly by the Michigan Wheat Program and Project GREEEN, on five Michigan farms over four growing seasons.
The findings indicated that precision and drill planting had statistically comparable and consistent seeding depths. However, broadcast had much more variability in planting depth.
How these seeding methods impacted yield and tillering was less clear. Yield was sometimes improved with precision planting. Broadcast consistently had more tillers per acre than drill-type planting. The 2021 research found the highest yield from a 1.5-inch planting depth.
Overall, the research found broadcast sowing has potential to quickly establish a stand of winter wheat. Monosem precision planting using 5-inch row spacing leads other planting methods with highest yields. And planting dates and seeding rates to not appear to be connected.
Results from the trials were not entirely definitive, and growers should review the full report and how these seeding approaches may be applicable on their farms.
Click below to review the 2022 PowerPoint slides and final report.
Research by Dr. Maninder Singh, Wheat Specialist Dennis Pennington and Graduate Student Kalvin Canfield
In the final year of this project, Dr. Singh summarized four years of Michigan Wheat Program-funded research on the precision planting approach for winter wheat. This project looked at planting methods to reduce plant-to-plant competition, thereby potentially increasing yields while decreasing crop inputs.
Two MSU farm sites – in Mason and Frankenmuth – were utilized and both followed the MI Wheat-funded high-management trials that have been part of the MSU Wheat Variety Trials for the last 10 years. Experiments varied the plant spacing, seeding depth, row spacing and seeding method and measured yield, stand, thousand kernel weight and other variables.
In summary, the project found that growers looking to increase yields should consider using precision planting technology, lowering seeding rates and using narrow row spacing. Many details are found in the attached report.
Click below to review the 2020 PowerPoint slides and final report.
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In the second of three years, lead investigator Dr. Singh and his team continue to look at how spatial distribution of wheat seed at planting time impacts yield. They first looked at precision planting vs. conventional drill technologies; row spacing; depth of seeding in combination with seeding rate to determine variability in spacing between plants.
The emphasis was on observing how to reduce variability in the wheat plants, with drilling showing more variability in plant spacing within the row than precision planting methods. Depth of seed was also more consistent with precision planting than with drilling. The third objective reviewed was the impact of row spacing and plant population on yield.
Two years into the project, the researchers are recommending Michigan wheat farmers looking to increase yields should consider precision planting technology. Increased singulation and uniform seeding depths are very promising, and there is potential to reduce costs by lowering seeding rates. Additionally, narrow rows also have potential to increase yields.
Click below to review the 2017 PowerPoint slides and final report.