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Tour provides valuable information on planting and equipment

Dan Hansen
Correspondent
Pioneer by Corteva™ in collaboration with Swiderski Equipment inc., Precision Planting and White Planters set up a trial in North Central Wisconsin comparing planter and non planter agronomics on corn and soybeans for 2020.

EDGAR, Wis. – For the third consecutive year Kevin Iczkowski hosted a crop tour field day on his Marathon County farm that is sponsored by Swiderski Equipment in conjunction with Pioneer Seeds, White Planters, Precision Planting Central Cropping Inc. and 360 Yield Center.

Iczkowski and his family cash crop about 800 acres, mainly corn and beans, along with some small grains and a few acres of hay on land in western Marathon County.

In addition to farming, he also works full time for Swiderski Equipment. “I got involved with the crop tour because working for Swiderski I could see the need for some of things that we did to gain knowledge to be passed along to our planters,” he said. “Also, I used to sell Pioneer seed, and I could see the need for the two groups to work together, and that’s how this joint venture started.”

Dryer soil conditions

With a dryer spring and summer then in past years, Iczkowski said crops went in fast and easy. “We weren’t fighting rain, and we’ve had timely rain, and the crops are looking really good and hopefully we can carry it through,” he added.

When asked if any changes were made because of the dryer conditions, he stressed that corn and bean varieties have to be selected early to ensure getting the desired seed, “but fertilizing and planting practices can be changed on the fly, it’s all adjustable. The fertilizer and the amount of nitrogen we put down, and predicting yields and crop needs are all adjustable,” he said.

He noted the crop tour field day is designed to enable producers to get out in the field, see the results of the different corn varieties, talk with other people who have different ideas and converse with other farmers who do things differently. “There are so many different ways to do things, and the technology is changing so fast, it’s important for growers to keep up with the changes,” he stressed. 

Information sharing

He hoped those attending would share information with one another other and also learn something from the speakers in each session. There were three different sessions, with two to three speakers in each presenting information and providing the opportunity for attendees to ask questions.

“We have speakers from all different sides – from the equipment side, from the seed side, from the agronomy side. We just want to teach people what we’ve learned, so they can make more money,” Iczkowski said. 

Kevin Iczkowski hosted the 2020 crop tour field day on his Marathon County farm.

“If our products are involved with that, great! If not, we hope the information we’re passing along today can help make them better farmers, and that they’ll be successful and continue to stay in business.”

Bigger equipment

Iczkowki acknowledged that much of Wisconsin farming is trending bigger. “When you plant 800 acres, you need bigger tillage equipment, bigger planting equipment and bigger harvesting equipment. Everything seems to be getting bigger, it all seems to be growing,” he said.

Crop farmers are utilizing economies of scale to cut labor costs, just like dairy farmers are doing by installing robotic milking systems. But he noted that the initial investment in equipment can easily run into millions of dollars.

"We have a Class A combine here today, while three years ago we never would have dreamed of having a Class A combine in this area. But we have to do more work with less labor,” he stressed. 

Featuring corn

While most of the field-day acreage is in corn this year, Iczkowski noted there’s also a soybean plot highlighting some population trials, and featuring different treatments for white mold and various planting depths.

“We’re trying to prove the value of our White planter and the technology of precision planting,” he said. “We’ve been running this out here for three years, planting 16 rows, with everything on the planter that you could imagine.  We’ve used two planters with different configurations, so we could show a side-by-side comparison.”

Due to COVID-19 the field day tour was scaled back this year. All the sessions, lunch and other events were held in the field and there was no main speaker. “We didn’t know exactly what to expect and how the situation would develop but we wanted to do something,” he said.

“We’ll hopefully have a winter event where we’ll be able to report on all the yields. We’re looking to have some really nice yields here, and we’re seeing some big differences already in some of the things we did. This is the third year some things have been repeated, so we can start seeing some redundancies,” Iczkowski explained.