Published May 21, 2019 | By Mike Petersen
As we spoke to dozens of farmers in South Africa during the week of May 14-17, 2019, they reiterated that in a drier climate than much of the Corn Belt of the States, planting directly in the center of the strip created by the Strip Till machine was of extreme importance. Their experiences shared were quite dramatic on how the crop grew to yield but how well the root expansion and depth made all the difference of having a crop for profit. I asked the question partly knowing the answers – why? A percentage of the growers across the Atlantic do not have RTK guidance and when they plant with varied spacing due to using the tram line methodology and getting off either due to contours in the rolling country or lack of guidance the yields dropped on the order of 8 to 15%.
Strip tilling and placing nutrients at 7 inches (180mm) deep hits the sweet spot.
Let us figure quickly on the average of what kind of cost that would be: on a 2000 hectare corn farm for example, that is a loss of 74.1 tons not produced. Today’s price is $153+ per ton USD $11,340.00 USD or total in Rand for South Africa of $160,990.00. A significant loss for the South African growers of maize. Causes; in the Orange Free State and parts of Transvaal the soils can have a water table down at depths of 1 to 1.25 meters and having the root extend down through the loamy sand soils to that depth can insure a decent crop. Capillary action will fluctuate up enough so the roots drink freely to a depth of 700 mm and the corn does quite well. Irrigation is spotty from ground water unless the farmer has developed small reservoirs and catch rainfall for overhead center pivots. So considering what the prices of a RTK guidance system are in this day and age, we spoke of how quick the return on investment could be.
What does all this have to do with an American farmer? As a friendly reminder to all you ladies and gentlemen growers, we at Orthman want to bring attention to the methods we use in the States having great value. Farmers that are growing let us say 4000 acres of just corn at today’s prices, guidance to keep “on the mark or in the zone” if you will, the practice and electronic equipment really pays season after season. As we visited more with the South African farmer and the subject went to fertilizers and placement – all those factors can be multiplied for yield if not Strip tilling and placing nutrients.
Coming back home to the States to the Western Corn Belt the message is clear, precision farming has definitely made a difference and will continue to do so. We at Orthman Manufacturing carry a message that being “on the mark” has great return both for plant health and for return on investment for you, all across this great nation where corn is grown.
Contact us, at your Orthman dealer, via this site by your Territory Managers, myself – Mike Petersen, we would love to visit, email or take your call.