Though it may not cover much ground in comparison to some of the giant commercial planters on farms around Ohio, the new specialized planter used to plant plots for the Ohio Corn Performance Trials and other University research is attracting quite a bit of attention. The impressive, custom-built Allen Machine Co. (ALMACO) planter is specifically designed for its big job on small acreage.
“We planted about 65 acres this year comprising of 9,000 test plots,” said Richard Minyo, who oversees the corn and wheat plots for Ohio State University Extension. “In addition to the performance trials, we support Extension efforts, do some contract work for private companies and maintain graduate student programs.”
The program supports itself financially and, though it took awhile, enough money was saved to update the planting equipment used to plant the plots.
“We have been saving money for a lot of years. Our old planter was home-built in the late 70s early 80s. It could do a lot of what we needed it to do, but it was just getting worn out and we couldn’t find parts for it anymore,” Minyo said. “A year ago we finally decided to upgrade to a new ALMACO planter out of Iowa. They are a worldwide company that builds specialty research farm equipment. It is a four-row planter capable of planting both four-row plots and two-row plots, but primarily everything we do is four-row. It has air vacuum plates and hydraulic variable rate drive. We build a prescription map on the computer and load it onto the planter. When we hit that specific plot number in the specific field that is the population it will plant. It is sub-inch RTK, RTX and it is completely programmable. We are still discovering what all this thing can do.”
This year, despite the often-challenging planting conditions in many parts of the state, Minyo and his crew managed to get roughly 220 corn hybrids in the right plots at the 10 different locations around the state in a timely manner with the new four-row planter.
“We started Friday of Memorial Day weekend and then planted for nine days straight and finished up on May 31. We are about two weeks later than we would like to be with planting, but we want to be as close to the normal producer’s growing season as possible,” he said. “We got the new planter and we were ready to go, but the trailer for hauling it was delivered late. Then it got cold and wet and I was glad I was not out there that early. Everything is in and looking good. We are looking forward to a good growing season and some good numbers this year.”
Minyo did some additional plot planting in mid-June at the OSU Extension Western Branch near South Charleston for some late planting research.
“The planter usually draws a crowd. It is unique. We are currently set up to plant at 1.9 miles per hour, which equates to nine seconds to cover the 25-foot plot length,” Minyo said. “Someone is riding on the planter and dumping seed packets into the planter — every nine seconds they are opening and dumping two packets of seed.”
Ohio Ag Net’s Joel Penhorwood caught up with Minyo and some OSU Extension researchers at the Western Branch for the final plot planting of 2014.