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He Switched to 20-Inch Corn
Ontario farmer John Van Dorp switched to 20-in. rows in corn by modifying both his Kinze double frame planter and his Deere 444 cornhead.
"It lets us increase both plant population and the distance between plants. Higher populations conserve moisture because the crop shades the soil faster. You can increase plants per acre 10 to 20% before moisture becomes a limiting factor," says Van Dorp.
One surprising advantage of boosting populations in narrow rows, according to Van Dorp, is increased combine speed because of the increased number of strip-ping units on the combine. HC says they leave more of the plant in the field so less trash goes inside putting less strain on the combine. "We have to take care in adjusting cylinder speed and concave settings so as not to damage kernels due to the reduced trash," says Van Dorp, who built his own 20-in. cornhead from a used Deere 444 head.
"We first stripped the used header down to the frame and removed the shaft that drives the units in order to install three additional stripping units and slide the existing stripping units closer together. Then we added extra stripper units from our original combine head. We made cardboard models of the snouts to form new noses and covers. They pivot up like the original noses using chains from the originals to adjust height. The whole conversion process took my brother and I 5 days of work," says Van Dorp.
To convert his planter, Van Dorp bought three new Kinze row units along with offset mounting brackets. He tills, plants and fertilizes in one pass, pulling an Aer=Way rotary tillage machine (Aerway Hollend Equipment, Norwich, Ontario, Canada ph 519 863-3414) ahead of the planter. It tills the soil and leaves mulch on the surface. Two ground drive squeeze pumps apply starter fertilizer and nitrogen. A set of Yetter liquid fertilizer attachments band 28% nitrogen 6 in. from the row and 4 in. deep. Starter fertilizer is placed in the furrow with the seed.
"I've used the system for two years and the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. We're boosting yields while reducing soil compaction and decreasing soil erosion. Total cost was $6,900 which includes $2,200 for the used Deere 444 cornhead, $3,600 for the Kinze planter units, $800 for a set of narrow radial tractor tires for spray work through the narrow rows, and $300 for sheet metal, angle iron, and Deere nose skids," says Van Dorp.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, John Van Dorp, Rt. 1, Woodstock, Ontario N45 7V6 Canada (ph 519 537-8769).


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1989 - Volume #13, Issue #5