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New farmer-led research at Beck’s

Short corn, tire pressure, and nitrogen technologies are among the new products and practices in Beck’s Practical Farm Research (PFR) this year.

PFR Director Jim Schwartz tells Brownfield about the new short corn studies.

“There are some breeding programs really investing in developing short corn hybrids and the theory is a height clearance machine can get over it better, maybe it will be less prone to greensnap or root lodging, and then also if you live in the northern climates where residue can be an issue, it’s less residue to deal with,” he says. “We’ve started three different studies with short corn. The first one is that since the corn has less biomass, does it need less nitrogen. Secondly, if it’s designed to get a high clearance machine over the top, can I spray less carrier rate when I’m spraying my fungicide. The other one is, row width and population. Because it’s shorter and because light interception is less, do I necessarily need to increase my population and narrow my row width to maximize sunlight capture.”

He says the short-corn studies will likely last four years.  

Schwartz says there is another study looking into tire pressure and its impact on yield.

“There are some new technologies out there that allow growers to change their tire pressure on the go—anywhere from 34 down to six,” he says. “We’re looking into how that tire pressure changes. It spreads out the weight over a larger footprint, so how does that impact yield.”  

He says the PFR team is also testing a new urea coating.

“A new urea coating more or less is prescriptive in the release and farmers can dial it in and say they want a third of the urea to break down after 30 days, 60 days etc.,” he says.  

Schwartz says practical farm research is driven by farmers.

“A lot of the time it’s based on the questions growers ask us,” he says. “For example, one of the most common questions we’ve gotten this year is about spraying fungicides with a drone. Next year we’re going to start some new research on utilizing drones to spray fungicides. A lot of our great ideas come from growers.”

According to Beck’s, there are 15 new studies for corn and 14 new studies for soybeans this growing season.   

Brownfield interviewed Schwartz during the 2022 Becknology Days in Atlanta, Indiana.

Audio: Jim Schwartz

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