Swiderski expands crop tour over two days, at two locations

Dan Hansen
Correspondent

Field-day tours enable growers to see first-hand the results of planting different varieties of corn and soybeans, utilizing different planting strategies and technologies.

Cody Miller, Swiderski Precision Farming specialist, points out the location of the Smart-Depth technology on the corn planter.

Over the past four years Swiderski Equipment has invited growers from through out central Wisconsin to view the crop growth, see the equipment and talk with agronomists and equipment specialists.

During the first three years, Kevin Iczkowski hosted a crop tour field day on his Marathon County farm presented in conjunction with Pioneer Seeds, White Planters, Precision Planting Central Cropping Inc. and 360 Yield Center.

Two field days

For 2021, the Swiderski tour featured two farms to make it more convenient for their customers to attend.

“We did want to reach out to different regions,” said Melissa Heise, Swiderski’s H.R. and Marketing director.  “Even though we serve the 23-county area of central Wisconsin, that area varies greatly with soil type, moisture levels. The two-day event gave us the opportunity to test those different soil conditions. It also gave us the opportunity to reach a new market and make it easier for customers on the eastern and westerns sides to make it to the event.”

Noting that the field day seems to occur when third- or fourth-crop hay is ready, and that makes it difficult for many to take a whole day away from the farm. “Having to travel a couple of extra hours can sway the decision not to attend. We thought having two days – one near Waupaca and near Thorp – would make it easier for some to attend.”

In previous years, some of the field days had featured both corn and soybean trials, but this year both plots were strictly corn. “We felt that because we were spreading ourselves out more than in the past, and working with different soil types, we would go back to straight corn,” Heise said.

Soil pit revelation

Also new to this year’s event was a soil pit at the Waupaca cornfield.

“We were fortunate this year to have new people involved with the project, so a couple of them had the idea to dig a soil pit, and it’s really cool to see the length of those roots,” said Heise. “You don’t often think about it, but the root structure of a corn plant is massive, so we had the right partners and made that happen to really dig down and show how strong that root structure is, and compare it in a couple of the trials.”

The soil pit at the Waupaca field-day site allows attendees to see that the root structure of a corn plant is really massive.

Cody Miller, Swiderski Precision Farming specialist, said the soil pit was part of the trial’s down-pressure study.

“We’re looking at the difference between basically not putting enough down pressure on the planter, having the correct amount of pressure, and having too much pressure,” he said. “

The trial is also looking at how seeding depth affects  root-structure development. “We want to have enough down pressure, but we don’t want to have so much that we’re compacting the sidewall and seed trench. A lot of it has to do with getting off the tractor and looking at things to make sure the planter is actually doing what you need it to do,” said Miller.

Although the Thorp cornfield didn’t have a soil pit, digging up some plants revealed some differences is seeding depth in the heavier soil with the amounts of down pressure that were used.

Smart Depth Technology

An important part of this year’s field trials was the use of Smart Depth which is an electronic depth control system that takes the place of a traditional T-handle on any row unit, according to Miller.

“From the cab, we can control the depth setting. The biggest advantage with Smart Depth is when it’s paired with a Smart Firmer it can measure organic matter, furrow moisture, temperature, how clean the furrow is, and other metrics,” Miller explained.

“We tie furrow moisture in with Smart Depth so that we can hunt for that furrow moisture line,” he said. “If the grower doesn’t want to plant any deeper than 3 inches, or shallower that 1.5 inches, we can set that parameter. With that active, we can hunt for that furrow moisture line of 30%, or wherever is set, and it will plant within the set depth range.”

Miller said Smart Depth is compatible with John Deere and Kinze, and can be retrofitted different style planters. “You can run it up to one Smart Firmer per four sections, but here we have one on each planter row, so each row is acting independently, which is amazing, taking that technology to the next level.”

According to Heise, 45 people attended each event. “It’s nice when we can split up into smaller groups so that we can have better interaction with the presenters,” she said. “We want people to feel comfortable asking whatever questions they have, getting down in the soil pit and walking in the fields.”