"One-Stop" No-Till Planter & Fertilizer System
Sunday, April 1, 2001
filed under: Equipment
Efficiency & Versatility
ND No-Till Sunflower Producers Are Enthusiastic About Their 'One-Stop' Planter and Fertilizer System
The Emmons County, N.D., father-son duo of Monte and Chad Vander
Vorst can't help but smile when discussing their row-crop planting
setup. And rightly so. After all, who wouldn't be happy using a system
with which they can:
. Plant all their row crops (sunflower, corn and soybeans).
. Apply dry fertilizer for the sunflower and corn at planting.
. Cover a large number of acres without refilling seed or fertilizer.
. Cut seeding/refilling manpower needs down to one person.
. Fit seamlessly into an existing no-till system.
. Contribute to ton-plus average sunflower yields.
The unit which the Vander Vorsts have utilized since 1999 consists
of a John Deere 1780 MarEnerge Plus vacuum planter followed by a
130-bushel Concord air tank, which is attached to the planter via a
heavy-duty gooseneck hitch. They seed 15 rows of sunflower in 15-inch
rows, simultaneously applying fertilizer from the Concord tank on
30-inch centers. An eight-port tower distributes the fertilizer between
alternate rows of sunflower.
The JD 1780 also is used to plant their corn crop in 30-inch rows,
with the trailing Concord tank again carrying fertilizer. For
soybeans, the Vander Vorsts remove the planter units (except for disks,
shoes and gauge wheel) and run the beans through the air tank, switching
over to a 15-port tower instead of the eight-port they use for applying
fertilizer on their sunflower and corn ground.
Prior to 1999, the Vander Vorsts were using an air seeder to plant
their no-till sunflower crop. While they were generally pleased with
its performance, there was one important facet with which they were not
satisfied: seed placement accuracy. Placement was not consistent
enough, they felt, thus resulting in more weed competition and eventual
"The beauty of the [JD 7180] is we're using an actual planter unit
and dropping those seeds perfectly," Chad remarks. "That's what we
really like to see: evenly spaced plants."
Because they're in 15-inch rows, the Vander Vorsts use just a
single trash whipper when planting no-till sunflower. They may go to a
twin setup in this year's corn ground, however, since the corn is in
Adding the Concord tank - which can carry about 7,000 pounds of dry
fertilizer - came out of the Vander Vorsts' desire to apply all their
fertilizer at planting, rather than having to undertake a separate
preplant operation. "The 7180 planter doesn't come with dry fertilizer
[capability] because its carrying wheels for the whole chassis are in
front," Chad points out. "So if we wanted to apply fertilizer with this
planter, we had to devise something like this [air tank-gooseneck
They've fertilized for a 2,200- to 2,300-pound sunflower yield goal
the past couple years. While fertilizer formulations obviously vary
according to soil test results, "if we wanted to put down about 100
pounds of actual N, we might run a blend like 200 pounds of urea; then
put in another 75 pounds of 18-46-0," Chad relates. "Or we may go with
150 pounds of urea - which would give us 69 pounds of N; plus another 75
pounds of 18-46-0, which would provide an additional 13 pounds of N plus
about 35 pounds of phosphorus."
The Vander Vorsts' per-acre sunflower seed drop is 30,000,
resulting in a final plant stand of around 27,000. In 15-inch rows,
that plant population gives them an in-row seed spacing of just under 14
inches. The resulting equidistant spacing in all directions optimizes
nutrients, moisture and sunlight, Chad points out - and also contributes
to a quick and complete plant canopy, which in turn helps suppress
Weed control has been very satisfactory in the Vander Vorst no-till
sunflower fields. Effective broadleaf management during the rotation's
other crop years is critical, Chad notes. Their only herbicide
applications in the 2000 sunflower fields consisted of a preplant
Roundup burndown and a single postemergent grass treatment.
The Vander Vorsts met their ton-plus yield goal in 2000 despite not
receiving any rainfall from the third week of July through harvest.
Given their high plant populations - and the ensuing smaller average
head size - Chad was concerned about the sunflower heads not filling to
their center. A 33-pound test weight left him pleasantly surprised at
season's end, however.
Chad says he and his father couldn't be more pleased with the
seed-fertilizer delivery system they use for their sunflower and other
row crops. Its row-spacing versatility and seed placement accuracy -
coupled with the capability to supply large-acreage fertilizer needs -
has been a great boon to their south central North Dakota operation's
efficiency and productivity, he affirms. And those impressive ton-plus
no-till sunflower yields provide the proof. - Don Lilleboe