Variable Rate Seeding

Jan 24, 2024

If you haven’t already, it’s time to start thinking about 2024. Specifically, what extra management practices can we use to promote higher yields? One way we can do this is by varying the amount, also known as the rate, of seed put in the ground. Variable rate seeding is a great way to lower input cost in tough areas while increasing your return in high yield areas.

So how does this all work? Corn generally ranges from 30,000-38,000 seeds per acre. Our soils have a lot of variability, so we often see positive results from varying seed populations accordingly. We ran population trials in 2023 with multiple replications and found that what we preach was correct. In good areas of the field, it paid to add more population. We ran tests varying between 30k and 38k across several different soil types. This rate provided an increase of 10 to 15 bushels per acre across the entire field.

Variable rate seeding works with soybeans too, but we take an opposite approach. In the high yield zones, we lower the soybean population, allowing room for bigger plants with more pods. In the low yield zones, we increase the population, allowing for more plants of a smaller size to make up for less pods. Once again, our field trials show the benefits of variable rate seeding soybeans. The data show high yield zones producing the same bushels per acre at 120k/acre and 160k/acre. The reason? Plants get bigger and have more pods. If you can plant less seed and get the same output, why wouldn’t you? At $70 for a bag of seed, every 10k population drop saves you an input cost of $5 per acre. That’s more money you can keep in your pocket or use on other parts of your operation.

Variable rate seeding is a great way to maximize ROI in a field. Reach out to us at SFG to learn about variable rate capabilities and if they would have a fit on your farm.