USDA funds precision planter research at K-State

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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) – The USDA has funded technology research for precision planters at K-State.

Kansas State University says its researchers will introduce the newest technologies for precision planters helping enhance productivity and maximizing crop yield.

K-State says it received almost $300,000 in funding form the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Research Education and Economics – National Insititute of Food and Agriculture program. It says the research team receiving the funding is led by Ajay Sharda, associate professor in the Carl and Melinda Helwig Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering and will research “Enhancing Crop Productivity by Developing Operational Strategies for High-Speed Precision Seeding Technologies.”

Sharda says the three-year project will conduct on-farm studies in collaboration with producers to create a better understanding of planter control system dynamics during high-speed planting by varying seeding rates, row spacing, planting depth, tillage systems, weather and soil types.

“We will establish recommendations for producers to smartly implement machine operating parameters to achieve uniform emergence. This in turn will improve stand establishment, early-season growth and yield optimization on a row-by-row basis,” said Sharda, a Carl and Mary Ice Keystone research scholar in the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering at K-State.

According to Sharda, on-farm research with producers will provide metrics to assess the advantages of adopting precision planter technologies, not just from the machinery, but from the agronomic perspective with the ultimate goal of improving productivity and profitability.

“This will develop strong extension and applied research programs for disseminating this material,” Sharda said. “It will showcase best management practices for optimizing current precision planter technologies to achieve uniform seed placement and gain yield advantages.”

Sharda says the project will require him and his co-collaborators Ignacio Ciampitti, agronomy, and Edwin Brokesh, biological and agricultural engineering, to adopt new methodologies and robust high-frequency data acquisition systems to gather detailed machinery and agronomic data.

“Collecting this multiyear, large scale on-farm research data,” Sharda said, “will not only allow our students to work with state-of-the-art technologies for their professional development, but will also enhance K-State’s research capacity to engage with numerous research partners to conduct collaborative large-scale on-farm research.”

K-State says engagement and support for the project will also be provided by Kansas extension agents Tony Whitehair, Dickinson County, and David Hallauer, Meadowlark Extension District.

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