E-Mail Broadcasts  Library  Machine Operations Videos Technical Training Videos Trade Shows Contact Info  Home FAQ


Experimental Testing of Relay Intercrop, Nitrate Harvesting


Below) Shelton / Grand Island, NE, June 12, 2003

Curt Rohric inspects relay intercrop soybeans in General Mills, New Horizon, Hard White Winter Wheat    Paul Gangwish inspects Hard Red Winter Wheat and Sunstar Pride Winter Barley.

Paul inspects Sunstar Pride and Sunstar Double, a facultative Winter Barley.

                         Soybean planting is complete. Soybeans emerge in Hard White Winter Wheat.
Soybeans emerge in Winter Barley. Sunstar Double Winter Barley in plots.

General Mills New Horizon and New Frontier compared.


Producer Paul Gangwish raised 3 crops in 2 years at Grand Island, NE. Commercial seed corn harvest in September is followed by seeding hard red winter wheat in early October. Soybeans are relay planted into filling winter wheat in early June. Winter wheat harvest occurs in early July. Soybeans are harvested in October.

No fertilizer application was required to harvest 65 bushel per acre hard red winter wheat at 12.7% protein at 61.1 lb. test weight.

No commercial herbicide was applied to the winter wheat. Excellent weed control had occurred with the previous Roundup Ready crops of soybeans and hybrid seed corn. Typical winter annual grassy weeds were not present.

Wheat root disease pressure is low since wheat has not been produced in rotation in the last 25 to 40 years.

The open canopy design using twin rows of wheat planted in valley ridges reduced foliar diseases and allowed sunlight to reach the lower wheat leaves. However, stand establishment was poor due to inadequate seeding machinery.

Ridge design will be improved to maximize the snow trap effect allowing winter protection for higher yielding winter wheat varieties and possibly winter barley.

Only 6 inches of water was used to supplement the natural rainfall. Center pivots are required to start the winter wheat timely and supply summer moisture to the soybeans.

Net returns to the producer and the landlord for the harvested winter wheat crop was $150 per acre.

Soybean yields are typical at 50 bushels per acre. 40 bushels per acre is considered acceptable.

Soil nitrate was removed by the growing winter wheat crop which had estimated root depths of 9 to 10 feet. 186 lbs. per acre of soil nitrate N was harvested by the crop. The top six feet of the soil profile stored 100 lbs. per acre of nitrate nitrogen. The soil P has been tested at 30 to 45 ppm.

Leaching of soil nitrate into the aquifer was reduced. Water quality is improved with this new system.

The growing winter wheat crop pulled CO2 from the atmosphere and stored up to 2 times the atmospheric carbon over a normal 2 year rotation of corn and soybeans.

Soil life was improved by observing earthworm populations.

Several improvements are planned in 2003 to boost yields to the 100 bushel per acre level. The improvements will increase net dollar returns. The improvements will harvest more nitrate and sequester more carbon. Supplemental fertility may be required which will raise risk at 100 bushels per acre production level 2.

Cultural management techniques will be developed for Nebraska conditions. New winter crops can now be introduced.

Correct seeding and fertilizing machinery is being developed to lower risk for seeding in ridges. Custom fertilizing and seeding equipment is anticipated to accelerate the adoption allowing center pivot seed corn producers to access the technology. Licensed commercial applicators and agronomists will be utilized to transfer the technology.

Grain bins should be the only major new investment for the producer.

Understanding Hybrid Seed Corn Production

Center pivot seed corn producers harvest hybrid seed corn in early September in Nebraska.  Seed corn is normally harvested on the cob with pickers and special wagons so an early harvest is the norm.  Seed corn is produced with commercial fertilizer and no shortage of nitrogen is required to produce top quality seed.  Soil phosphate levels are sometimes elevated to 30 to 45 PPM. The soils are 2 to 3% organic matter at 6.5 to 6.8 Ph.   This assures the highest quality nutrient packed seed for the hybrid seed companies.  Seed corn must be picked timely in September even in wet conditions. A killing frost can come early and damage the hybrid seed. The seed corn is specially dried by the seed corn company to a critical moisture value to assure a high level of germination.  
Hybrid seed corn is somewhat similar to how  foundation and certified winter wheat seed is produced in the PNW using a high level of residual nutrients from a potato ground rotation to propagate certified winter wheat seed.  High quality seed is produced using nutrient rich soils. 

 Nutrient packing of the seed kernel produces additional plant vigor from a large heavy kernel for winter wheat stand establishment (8,500 seeds per pound).  Potato ground also tends to have less potential for wheat root diseases. The potato ground is also located in an area west of the Cascades that has very little potential for head scab (snow mold life cycle).  The prevailing winds of the Pacific Push from the Gulf of Alaska and the dry rain shadow Columbia basin climate allows for ideal winter wheat seed production.

An environmental problem sometimes occurs with corn and seed corn production.  Nitrate can be leached below the root zone of the irrigated seed corn due to a mismanaged watering schedule. Continuous corn rotations and up 7 pounds of N per inch of irrigation water adds to the problem.  Irrigated corn root systems have about 1/2 the depth of dryland corn. The normal rooting depth of irrigated corn is 3 feet.  Dryland corn is no deeper than 6 feet. Spring and Summer storms can also make water and nitrogen management difficult at best for corn production.  See graphs A and B regarding corn root systems for irrigated and dryland.

Click to enlarge images


Seed corn is produced in the typical Midwest short rotation following soybeans. Ridge till/No-till systems are normally used in Nebraska. These advanced No-till systems or farming allow non mobile nutrients P and K to be stored and in perfect alignment for roots of the following crops.  If tillage is implemented the bands of placed P and K become positionally and chemically unavailable to the following winter wheat crop. 

Most agriculturist agree that the rotation of corn and soybeans is a dangerously short rotation.  A longer rotation is needed to reduce risk and take advantage of the synergism of a longer rotation using less chemicals.  Longer rotations also produce less market risk and allow more marketing opportunities.  In fact livestock is often used to strengthen the cash flow and improve liquidity.  This is one of the purposes of using longer rotations. 
Longer rotations improve the soil life (microflora).  Earthworm populations increase in longer rotations. Earthworm populations are often studied to confirm the status of the living soil. 


Longer rotations using cool season soil cover crops limit soil wind erosion with No-Till techniques.  This became clearly evident on May 22, 02 when two Interstate 80 vehicles collided in blowing dust killing two people near Seward, NE.  The jet stream dropped down to the deck in a northwestern air stream flow. The dry warm 80 F winds were clocked at 80 mph. The wind erosion event blew directly into the path of the drivers line of sight.  The exposed and tilled fields adjoining the Interstate lost 20 to 50 tons per acre of valuable top soil.  A cover crop of winter wheat in a relay intercrop would have protected the soil and saved irreplaceable family members.


The soybeans produce about 1 pound of nitrate nitrogen for each 1 bushel of production. Maximum soybean yields are in the 60 bushel per acre range so 60 pounds of organic nitrate nitrogen are produced by the soybean legume.
Corn requires 1.1 pounds of nitrogen for each bushel produced. Seed corn does not yield as high as field corn since 2 out of 12 rows are used for the male parent and the hybrid plant vigor is not available from the inbreed lines producing the new hybrid seed variety.  So yields of 70 Bu. per acre to 140 Bu. per acre would be considered normal for irrigated hybrid seed corn production.  Thus the seed corn companies reward the producers with financial incentives to produce top yields and to compete with standard corn production economics.
Soil sampling following seed corn harvest indicates 100 pounds of mobile nitrate nitrogen is stored in the 6 foot profile following seed corn harvest.  The soil nitrate levels for irrigated corn are normally sampled to 3 feet.  ARS scientists have carried out research in the 3rd to 6th foot determining where the nitrate is being stored.  It is also known that nitrate has accumulated below 6 feet and moving towards the shallow water table.  The key is to remove the mobile soil nitrate and all the root profile soil moisture with the growing crops. This lessens the chances of more nitrate moving below the root zone.
Estimates have been made that the US has $21 Billion of nitrate (based on 21 cent N) that has moved below the corn root system profile.  Commercial nitrogen fertilizers were introduced to Midwest agriculture 50 years ago.  It is becoming a most critical period in agriculture to reduce this uncontrolled emission of nitrate into the drinking water. 

Seward, NE on July 18, 2002 in fact issued orders to city water customers to not drink the water from city wells.  The drinking water nitrate levels were above 10 PPM. Only 1 PPM is permissible in Europe. Seward, NE is an irrigated corn production area about 40 miles west of Lincoln and just north of I-80 along the Big Blue River.  The Big Blue River drains into the Kansas River at Manhattan, KS.  The source of drinking water nitrate is most likely from irrigated corn production from the last 50 years.

Nebraska is favored for seed corn production due to the ability to manage water and nutrients better than other areas of the corn belt.  Also the transportation to the eastern corn belt and the western United States is excellent.  The western corn belt tends to be more consistent supplier of the hybrid seed corn production.  This is because the harvest is normally drier and the water cost is less.
The Nebraska seed corn producers have a very unique advantage in a new system of farming that is being led by USDA-ARS scientist Jim Schepers of Lincoln, NE, seed corn producer Paul Gangwish of Grand Island, NE and assisted by Guy Swanson of Spokane, Washington.  Swanson is providing agronomic and machinery technology support. The transfer of this new crop production technology is coming to Nebraska producers from private and government sectors.

Center Pivot Irrigation Is Required.

Nebraska was originally a winter wheat state so the climate favors wheat.  However winter wheat is seldom raised under center pivots in Nebraska.  Most winter wheat acres of Nebraska are found in the much higher, moderate dryland rainfall, 3,000 feet to 5,000 feet elevation, of the western panhandle. A small acreage of dryland winter wheat is raised south of the Platte River Valley towards the Kansas state line.
The early seed corn harvest permits high yield stand establishment of winter wheat under center pivots at much lower elevations.  The center pivots located in the Platte River valley combined with good water management tends to favor a cool season crop such as winter wheat. This valuable tool allows an excellent fall start of winter wheat at elevations of 1,900 feet and 41 degrees north. Average mean low temperatures at Grand Island, NE are 12 degrees F in the coldest month, January.



The "Flywheel Effect" of soil irrigation is utilized. Center pivot production of winter wheat also has another advantage over dryland wheat.  The soil takes longer to freeze in the fall and stores this heat longer going into the winter months.  The center pivot soils have stored moisture.  More energy from the environment is required to drop the soil temperature.  Thus more energy is required to warm the soil in the spring.  The break in dormancy is delayed.  The winter wheat will grow longer in the fall allowing the wheat to develop deeper root systems.  You can measure this "Flywheel Effect" by observing the time it takes water to boil in microwave.  A half full glass of water will boil faster than a full glass of water.
Jim Schepers has taken a whole new approach in seed corn production. Why not raise two crops in a well managed relay?  His new approach is used to manage nitrate leaching and absorb carbon from the atmosphere by raising two crops per year following seed corn.  He has observed Relay Intercrop in Argentina and came back with some fresh ideas for Nebraska seed corn producers using center pivots. Producer Paul Gangwish likes the new system since the economics are quite favorable and it just matches his workload.
Farming is a Controversy with Weeds
The reason Jim Schepers approach has a high degree of success is simple....Weed Control, low wheat root disease pressure, leverage fertility, Ridge Till and a dedicated area for Roundup ready soybean establishment.  Previous attempts to Relay Intercrop in Nebraska have been tried.  In fact in 1989 UNL researchers carried out studies and published a NebGuide for Relay Intercropping titled, Two Crops in One Year: Relay Intercropping. www.unl.edu/pubs/fieldcrops/g1024.htm.  


Irrigated Platte Valley Nebraska wheat has not been raised since the 1960's when center pivots were developed.  After all Nebraska is the Corn Husker state.  Therefore wheat root diseases and typical winter annual weeds such as Jointed Goat Grass, Ripgut Brome and Downey Brome are hard to find.  The most difficult weeds in winter wheat production are winter annual grasses, fall and spring Wild Oats and Russian Thistle.  The most difficult perennial noxious weeds are Morning Glory and Canadian Thistle.  In the PNW these weeds dictate long four year rotations with three spring crops or a two year rotation with weed control cost of $25 to $30 per acre.  Wheat is not a GMO crop so weed control costs are quite high for each bushel of wheat produced.
If GMO wheat is released the acres dedicated to wheat will increase substantially.  Low rainfall areas will immediately drop summerfallow winter wheat type systems and proceed immediately to No-till annual cropping of spring wheat in certain areas of the country.  GMO winter wheat may not be released because USDA-ARS scientists are very close to offering perennial winter wheat.  Perennial winter wheat is the most moisture efficient crop for the high desert of the western US.  The National Corn Growers Association has voted against GMO wheat since an oversupply of a cheaper cattle feed source could drive down corn prices.  GMO spring wheat is about two years from release.  It has been tested since 1995 under APHIS.
Never forget, "The number one reason farmers farm the way they do is because of the weeds".
When Roundup Ready crops became available in the mid-90's the field could be maintained and groomed with Roundup rather than more expensive residual selective herbicides.  It is critical to maintain a strong weed control program in the seed corn rotation for the winter wheat to be established correctly.  No residual herbicides can be present in the winter wheat soil seedbed since residual herbicides hurt the winter survival of winter wheat.  In fact it has been observed that no selective herbicide application is required in this new winter wheat system if the proper weed control occurs in the soybean and seed corn crop.
Another reason why weed control is so superior in this new system is the applied commercial fertilizer comes only from the No-till/Ridge-Till seed corn production.  The fertilizer bands are no-till applied and always in ideal alignment with the seed rows.  The winter wheat plant traps the fertilizer and prevents weeds from accessing the residual bands of placed fertilizer.  This is especially effective to improve winter wheat roots geometric access to placed P and K.
This is a new method of raising winter wheat in a strong and thrifty group of winter wheat seed rows.  The seed rows are directly over the residual placed fertilizer bands of NPK. This method favors the winter wheat crop and hides the fertilizer from the weeds.  This time proven approach of Paired Row was introduced by Yielder Drill in 1982.  Paired Rows of winter wheat geometrically and postionally aligned with deep bands of fertilizer are more effective in raising winter wheat. This information is found in a published article, "Feed the Wheat and Starve the Weeds" as reported by Glen Lorang of the Farm Journal.

                  Click To Enlarge

Weed control in the early harvested seed corn is excellent.  The male rows are normally mowed down after tassel.  Thus weeds can regenerate in 2 out of 12 rows.  These weeds must be controlled right up to harvest date.  It is important to control the weeds since a "Green Link" can occur.  The "Green Link" is a bridge or means of transfer for insects that harbor in the growing and succulent green weed mass.  The insects such as wheat mites, and aphids begin to feed on the new winter wheat crop and implement wheat diseases such as Leaf Streak Mosaic and BYDV. 
If Roundup is applied immediately after harvest to large weeds the die down of the large weeds will provide an ideal environment for Rhizoctonia Bare Patch.  Rhizoctonia will proliferate from the decaying weed mass to the emerging winter wheat.  Rhizoctonia mycelium reach out about 8 inches from the decaying mass and attach to the emerging wheat.  It is highly important to control weeds in the growing seed corn crop.  The recommended practice for seeding wheat is to wait three weeks after applying Roundup to large weeds to avoid the Rhizoc problem.  This is not a unique phenomena of the PNW since Rhizoctonia has been observed throughout the corn belt.                                                                                               
Wheat in the Rotation
Planted wheat acres of all classes have continued to decline from 80 million acres in the mid 1980's to 60 million acres this year.  CRP reductions of wheat land and the technology or Roundup Ready Corn and Soybeans has allowed No-till farming to be expanded on previous old fashioned summerfallow winter wheat acres.  The farm program also tends to favor populated areas of the Midwest which raise corn and soybeans.   Wheat is considered a desert crop for low population areas of west of the 100th meridian (Grand Island, NE). 
Harvested winter wheat acres show the biggest decline with only 30 million acres to be harvested this year. Hard Red Winter Wheat is estimated at 20.7 million acres. The 30 million acres of harvested winter wheat is the smallest total acreage since 1917.  Hard Red Winter Wheat acreage abandonment is the second highest since 1950 in the Hard Red Winter Wheat Belt (Texas to South Dakota). This year 28% of the Hard Red Winter Wheat crop was abandoned due to very dry conditions.
World supply of wheat continues to increase about 2.3% this year.  Annual export market for US wheat was up about 8% as of early May, 2002.  This may be due to the falling dollar.
Wheat is a good rotation crop. Winter wheat sequesters CO2 from the atmosphere.  Winter wheat improves soil tilth by storing carbon longer than such crops as soybeans and corn.  Wheat residues normally take longer to break down and release nutrients including CO2. No agronomic or environmental disadvantages are known when raising winter wheat in rotation with corn and soybeans.
Winter wheat is not a GMO crop.  This may be a major advantage to the seed corn producer since weed control is so superior in the GMO beans and corn. No selective or residual herbicide is required to raise the winter wheat in this rotation.  Any application of a selective herbicide will damage wheat to some degree.  This new system of farming uses less herbicide and harvests nitrate which does reduce commercial fertilizer nitrogen use.  CO2 recovery from the atmosphere could double with this new system. 
This new system of raising two crops in one year has very unique advantage over typical winter wheat budget scenarios.  Winter wheat in the high rainfall PNW dryland production area requires at least $35.00 per acre for commercial fertilizer.  Additional budget requirements for weed control and soil disease fungicides increases costs another $30 to $45 per acre.
A Great Fall Start
Winter wheat tillers twice, once in the fall and again in the spring.  Winter wheat will develop a deep root system and harvest nitrate if the crop is established in best of condition going into the winter.  In fact winter wheat has the maximum winter hardiness when only phosphate type fertilizer is used to harden the plant.  Phosphate causes the cell walls to thicken.  Nitrogen causes the cell wall to elongate and weaken. Nitrogen application is not recommend for maximum winter survival  This is one reason why winter wheat can now be raised in Canada.  Nitrogen is applied in the spring rather than the fall. 
Winter wheat should be seeded as shallow as possible under center pivot production.  The seed should be placed at 1/2" and no deeper than 1".  This allows quick emergence and a more extensive root system going into the winter.  Winter wheat can be seeded too early.   Optimum seeding dates vary based on elevation, daytime soil temperatures, and insects.
Seed corn producers in Nebraska have very special advantages in producing top yielding winter wheat crops in an intercrop relay.  Center pivots provide a great fall start of winter wheat which adds to the winter wheat yield and winter survival of the crop.

Ridge Till Favors Winter Wheat

  Click Images To Enlarge

It is a well know fact that ridges add to winter survival and help the winter wheat plant take off in spring in better condition following the dormant winter months. The ridges trap snow and help to protect the winter wheat crop from the winter winds. 
In fact special wheat drills are sometimes used to plant winter wheat in deep furrows.  The furrows allow the winter wheat to propagate in a micro environment in consistent soil moisture.  Such drills as the John Deere HZ split packer drill were developed specifically to seed winter wheat on wide 14", 16" and even 18" spacings.  The deep furrow drills would often pay the entire investment back in the first crop.
Standing corn stubble improves the snow trap effect and lowers surface wind velocity.  A No-tillage system using Ridge Till allows high yielding winter wheat varieties to be used.
Roll the Dice Three Times
Winter Wheat can winter kill as it breaks dormancy in the spring.  A resurgence of cold winter winds in March can desiccate the thrifty plant.  Most winter wheat is lost in the month of March.  PNW winter wheat producers will loose the winter wheat stand about once every 20 years.  Very few No-till farmers lose winter wheat entirely due to the better condition of the crop.  No-till fields are warmer going into the winter and remain cooler coming out of the winter.  This means winter wheat is more protected from the harsh winter winds. 
No-till winter wheat also breaks dormancy later.  This can be a major advantage with high yielding irrigated wheat in Nebraska.  In fact volunteer spring wheat will survive through the winter in standing No-till spring wheat stubble that has been seeded to winter wheat.   Volunteer spring wheat adds to the yield of the dedicated winter wheat crop with no mixing of classes. 


The second dice roll,..... Spring Wheat. No-till producers will immediately respond to winter kill by No-till seeding spring wheat into exposed winter kill areas of the field. No-till farmers immediately purchase spring wheat seed and selectively seed into the exposed winter kill areas.  Nebraska producers can do the same.  Dark northern spring wheat can be seeded to patch out the field or used to reseed the entire pivot.  If the Dark Northern Spring Wheat is seeded at the end of March it will mature in 90 days.  So the maturity can be aligned for the relay timing event and the early July harvest.
The third dice roll, occurs when soybeans are relay intercropped  into the maturing spring wheat. 
Winter wheat in this new system is a very low risk crop since the input risk is so low.  Approximately $40 per acre is at risk going into the winter with this new system.  PNW winter wheat producers risk about twice as much per acre going into the winter.
Something is Green and Growing
This new system has something "Green and Growing" 11.5 months out of the year.  Winter wheat is the new crop used in rotation following corn.  This new system matches mother nature's system and may even provide more CO2 sequester than what mother nature could provide naturally.  The producer must have correct:
 1. machinery, 2. low cost water, 3. wheat and soybean varieties, and 4. timing combined with wheat culture management skills.  We would anticipate that UNL will produce a NebGuide on this new system.
The new system is a nitrate harvester using a unique crop relay period in early June.  The winter wheat is seeded as soon as the seed corn is off (September 20 th).  The soybeans are planted into the maturing winter wheat (30 days to maturity) just after the wheat flowering period.  The soybean planting period between the wheat rows is around June 4 th with winter wheat harvest starting July 4 th. The critical relay period appears to be about 30 days before the winter wheat harvest so the soybeans do not spindle and over elongate.
The soybean seed bed is 18" to 20" in width on top of the ridge.  Winter wheat is seeded in 10" to 12" wide paired rows.  Early seeded winter wheat will not compromise yield if seeded early in this system with superior weed control.  Weed control is the key.  USDA-ARS scientist's Papendick, Cook, and Nelson have determined that no yield compromise is observed at 24" wide rows of winter wheat. Row widths of 28" and 36" have been observed and tested with a yield loss of about 3% to 5% at several locations in the PNW. 
The critical criteria to top winter wheat yields is a guaranteed early fall start with superior weed control.  Mort Swanson produced field wide averages of 145 bushel per acre using a No-till Yielder placement drill on 15" seed row spacing.  Weed control was superior since Mort Swanson was a commercial applicator with exceptional weed control skills. In general it can be stated that 2 out of 3 seed rows in winter wheat production are used for weed control.  The winter annual morphology of winter wheat's extensive and deep root system assures nitrate harvesting.  Winter wheat root systems are often found at 9 foot depths in the PNW dryland scenario.


Three Levels of Production Have Been Selected Based On Risk and Reward.
Level 1 results in 65 bushel per acre low risk, low management, yield goal at $1.11 per bushel produced.
Level 2 results in 100 bushel per acre medium risk, high management, yield goal at $1.28 per bushel produced.
Level 3 results in a 150 bushel per acre higher risk, intensive wheat management, yield goal at a $1.56 per bushel produced.
The regional price for the 13% protein Hard Red Winter Wheat is expected to vary between $2.75 per bushel to $4.25 over the next ten years. The Portland export price for 13% protein Hard Red Winter Wheat August 2, 2002 is $4.62 per bushel.  Central Nebraska producers can expect $1.00 per bushel in freight expense to export high quality Hard Red Winter Wheat to the Pacific coast ports. So internal domestic use shipped to flour mills is expected to be the major market.
Gross returns could be as high as $600 per acre and as low as $178 per acre.  As of July 2002 the level 1 approach produced 65 bushel per acre of high quality winter wheat at 12.7% protein at 61.1 test weight on the first test center pivot.  The net returns combined to the landlord and the producer average out at $150 per acre with a realized price of $3.60 per bushel.  It would appear that Nebraska producers would be the lowest cost producers of HRWW in nation as this system continues to evolve. 
Soft White Winter Wheat producers normally have the lowest cost per bushel produced due to the high yield nature of dryland winter wheat in Walla Walla and Whitman counties of Eastern Washington.  But these producers are not always consistent since natural rainfall is required.
Approximately 186 pounds of soil nitrate was harvested in the Relay Intercrop.  It is assumed that 100 pounds of nitrate was stored in the top six feet.  With no commercial nitrogen applied it is apparent that the wheat roots penetrated to a depth of 9 to 10 feet.  Further testing should reveal the actual root depth of the winter wheat.
The carbon sequester from the atmosphere is being calculated.  The carbon sequester values are expected to double with this rotation.
Moving to Level 2 in 2003......The goal is to raise higher winter wheat yields to harvest more nitrate and to sequester more carbon.  Additional Phosphate may need to be applied.  Insecticide may be required. Additional water is required. Four varieties designed for irrigated production will be selected.  New multipurpose seeding and fertilizing machinery is definitely required.  Although the cost per bushel will increase the net returns to the landlord and the producer will increase to $220 per acre.  A level 2 production program will be applied to four pivots using a Yielder NPK 1515 drill with a six shooter box delivery system.
Level 3 production has been reserved to the 2004 production year.  Due to higher risk this system requires intensive wheat management skills, European wheat varieties, (may not perform in Nebraska), and a purpose built fertilizer placement drill 30 feet in width having several other applications in Nebraska agriculture.
The highest recorded yield of US winter wheat is 212 bushels per acre in the Columbia Basin of Eastern Washington.
The Correct Machinery
After considerable review and discussion with UNL extension ag engineer Paul Jasa, USDA-ARS scientist Jim Schepers, seed corn producer Paul Gangwish and ag engineer/machinery developer, agronomist, and author Guy Swanson..... the following machinery system has been selected to implement the highest level of consistency, persistently, lowest risk and profit.
The row spacing selected is 30".  The planter width is 12 row, three point mount, with excellent clearance vertically and horizontally to avoid wheat damage. The drill width is 30 feet with fertilizer placement capability.  The drill must seed four conjoined rows of winter wheat in relation to residual deep bands and dual placed bands of NPK at time of seeding.  Residue loads are expected to be in the 10,000 lb. per acre range.  Residue manipulation for seed soil contact is a priority. 


Utilizing a Yielder drill to improve stand quality


The total seeding array must add up to 30" spacing at 30 feet in machine width.  The internal wheat array allows wheat to be propagated in a 10" to 12" wide width and soybeans being propagated in a 18" to 20" width at the center and on top of a standard or radical winter protection ridge. 

 Click on images to enlarge  
The ridge effect must be maintained to enhance winter survival in heavy corn residue.  Better winter protection means higher yields.
Insecticide capability is required for the early fall start.  Insecticide can be deleted after freezing nights but some yield compromise can be expected due to later seedings.
The lowest possible winter wheat seed rate will be utilized to promote fall tillering using high quality certified wheat seed ($12 per bushel, certified, $18 per bushel, Hybrid).  The seed metering system must have a CV of 5% or less using an air delivery type system similar to Valmar or Gandy.  Typical airseeder metering systems used in low yield wheat production of the northern great plains and Canada are not acceptable for high yield irrigated winter wheat production.  Seed cost must be reduced and stand establishment is too critical for the high CV airseeders.
The opener and depth control is critical in ridge till.  Large diameter single disc openers  that can place two seed rows and deep band MAP, MAPS, and AS simultaneously have been selected.  The seed bed must be firmed.  The seed depth control must be maintained within 1/2" to 1" in heavy corn stubble residue.
The combine is equipped with a dual tire spacing that allows the wheat to be harvested with no damage to the emerging juvenile soybeans other than the field lands.  The combine must be equipped with a chaff spreader capable of spreading wheat chaff 30 feet.  The chaff spreader is critical to control volunteer wheat in the soybeans.
The grain buggy (bankout wagon) and the tractor hauling the grain away from the combine also matches the gauge width required for the ridge till spacing of 30 inches.  This spacing matches the combines tires previous pass.  So straight, on the mark driving, of the bankout wagon is required to the field lands.  This is not unusual for Ridge Till producers.  As yields approach 100 bushel per acre the bankout wagon must be timed to the combine bulk tank capacity.  On the go bulk tank unloading is required.  Excellent driver skills are required to maintain controlled compaction and to avoid soybean damage.
Adjustable gauge width, narrow belted tractors (14" belts and narrow midwheels) are very compatible with this new system.  A Deere belted tractor was utilized in the initial center pivot test. However, a wheel tractor would also work.  12.4 x 54 Michelin tall tires and rims are available on a 90" gauge width.  Producer Steve Wiese of Claytonia, NE, www.exactrix.com/kinze.htm, has modified his Deere 7710, 135 horsepower tractor to the tall 12" narrow tires for 120" gauge width sprayer operation using a 90 foot boom.  The tires have a 9600 pound load rating
Caterpillar has announced the MT series tractors rated up to 285 horsepower with 14" wide belts and narrow midwheels.  The unique aspect of the Cat MT tractor is the adjustable gauge width to 150" or even greater out to 165" if required (Hillside).  Wide gauge width is extremely desirable.  Power delivered to ground in turning and stability of the seeding platform is enhanced.  The Cat MT has a three point rating of 16,000 lbs. with a 55 gpm pressure compensated hydraulic system.
If you have interest in wide gauge width tractors you can review this subject at http://www.exactrix.com/LargestApp.htm.    You can also contact your Caterpillar dealer regarding the new MT series tractors.  Wide gauge width is time proven, very desirable.
If custom seeding drills and applicators become available the only additional new major investment should be grain bins to store and handle the various categories of high quality milling wheat.  This should not be a difficult hurdle for Nebraska producers.  Home storage of wheat has been proven to be good government subsidized program over the last 20 years.

   Click on images to enlarge

A Mortgage Lifter.
Nebraska seed corn growers have a unique scenario that comes by once in a lifetime for a producer.  Why? 1. Two crops in one year. 2. Better use of the land.  3. Meet and exceeds environmental requirements.  4. Minimum machinery investment.  5. Less financial pressure by rolling the dice three times in one year.
Land values should increase in this new system.  The paydown of debt should accelerate.
If you further questions about the progress of this new system please e-mail Guy Swanson at www.exactrix.com.  This htm will be updated following the soybean harvest.



Perennial crops such as alfalfa and clover have a taproot which is larger in diameter and usually have deeper rooting systems than corn. (From Jean and Weaver, 1924) Perennial and winter annual crops such as winter wheat and triticale have deep root systems that can harvest nitrate, carbon sequester and reach rooting depths of 10 feet.


Exactrix® Global Systems LLC
4501 East Trent Ave.
Spokane, WA 99212
509 995 1879 cell, Pacific.

Return To Main