Farm superintendent Josh Sievers (left) and cropping systems agronomist Mark Licht check the settings on the new 20-inch planter unit local partners provided to the Northwest Research Farm near Sutherland. Their research will provide farmers important data for use in determining if narrower rows offer economic or managerial benefits.
Farm superintendent Josh Sievers (left) and cropping systems agronomist Mark Licht check the settings on the new 20-inch planter unit local partners provided to the Northwest Research Farm near Sutherland. Their research will provide farmers important data for use in determining if narrower rows offer economic or managerial benefits.

Iowa State University Research and Demonstration Farms will begin new crop row spacing trials thanks to a recent gift from local partners in Northwest Iowa.

The Northwest Research Farm near Sutherland has been outfitted with a planter with 20-inch rows from Sorensen Equipment in Harlan.

“The Kinze planter from Sorensen Equipment will allow the research farm to do an array of projects related to narrow-row corn and soybeans,” said ISU farm superintendent Josh Sievers. “DuPont Pioneer, Monsanto DeKalb and the Northwest Iowa Experimental Association also are providing funds and in-kind gifts to support this research.”

ISU Extension and Outreach cropping systems agronomist Mark Licht said the timely research will provide farmers important data for use in determining if narrower rows offer economic or managerial benefits.

“Trends indicate plant populations have been increasing by about 400 plants per acre per year. This will necessitate narrower row spacing to maintain adequate plant-to-plant spacing within a row,” Licht said. “Our research will compare 20-inch and 30-inch row spacing to identify repercussions or advantages to either system.”

The Northwest Iowa Experimental Association owns the Northwest Research Farm and provided $10,000 towards the purchase of the planter. The local, 22-member board supports ISU research and field days at the farm.

"This is such a great opportunity for us to do this kind of research. Without the help of our supporting partners we would not have been able to purchase this type of vital equipment. It will help identify if a narrower row width can be used to push for higher populations and ultimately higher yields," said board chairman Brian Waldstein.

Local partners supporting the research are: Roger Sorensen, Sorensen Implement, provided funds toward the purchase of the planter; Darren Hora, DuPont Pioneer, provided funds and seed; and Craig Lamoureux, Monsanto DeKalb, provided seed and herbicide for use in trials.

Results of the planting trials will be published in the farm’s research report, in ISU’s Integrated Crop Management newsletter and shared at Crop Advantage Series workshops, the Integrated Crop Management conference and other ISU Extension and Outreach events.