As seeding technology has evolved so has row spacing. Where we used to plant using a six- or eight-inch spacing, we’ve moved up to 10 and 12 inches and now we’re seeing farmers using 15 inches. With the wider row spacing its providing benefits to the plant that no one thought we could have before.
The wider row spacing gives canola more space, increasing the rate of photosynthesis. It allows for more lignin to be produced in the plant — by generating more lignin it lessens lodging risk and makes for a healthier plant stand. This allows the crop canopy to close reducing disease incidence in fields, and therefore requiring for less herbicides and fungicides to be used. It’s really a snowball effect.
Another benefit is reduced seed costs. While overall you are planting less plants, the wider row spacing stops overcrowding in fields which can cause seed mortality. You’re letting the plant flourish instead of choking it out.
SeedMaster has been a leader for wider row spacing, while still continuing to offer seeding options for traditional row widths. I think that they are on the right track for anything new and upcoming in the ag world. They’re doing the right things at the right time for farmers.
In a five-year SeedMaster study, crop yields were compared for both 10 and 15-inch row spacing. The study found there was no impactful difference between the yields of both spacings. The 15-inch spacing even gives an advantage due to the lower quantity of openers required. It allows for savings on maintenance costs, draft requirements, and additional operational costs.
I have found that farmers are hesitant to try out wider row spacings, but I am starting to get some uptake. I recently was in the field with a farmer who was testing out wider row spacing. He was doing a demo with a SeedMaster Ultra SR using a 15-inch row spacing to plant winter wheat. Initially he was reluctant, but after the demo he was impressed with the row spacing and how the machine handled in the field. He even mentioned he wants to plant canola in the spring using a 15-inch row spacing.
I plan to follow along with him to see how the field progresses throughout the growing season. I want to see how the plants come up, what the stand is like, how they’re spaced out, and if the crop canopy is closing to protect against weeds. I want to be able to share what I learn from his fields with other farmers I work with. I think that if guys give it a try, then they will see that the benefits outweigh the concerns when it comes to wider row spacing.
Header photo — A close up of the SeedMaster Ultra SR wing brace showing the precision seeding tool on 15 inch spacing. Photo credit: Ashley Murkin, SeedMaster