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View Full Version : How important is the fertilizer hopper on corn planters


Corkman
04-02-2011, 03:39 PM
I've been trying to find a 2 row planter but it seems that most of the ones that I find only have seed hoppers. How important is the fertilize hopper? Is there another good way?

I'll be planting beans, corn and milo with it, what do you guys have and what should I look for? Thanks

wolc123
04-02-2011, 05:44 PM
Personally, I would not buy one without fertilizer hoppers. The only fertilizer I use is around 75 lbs/acre of 15-15-15 applied at planting using the hoppers on my JD 246, 2-row corn planter. That is next to nothing compared to what most guys use. I get most of the nitrogen I need, for 150 bu/acre yields if I use a little roundup, from clover which had grown previously at the location, banking nitrogen in the soil. It dont make sense for a food-plotter to not plant corn on old clover ground, when you consider the facts that clover is the number one deer food plot, and the high prices of fertilizer these days. Those row fertilizer applicators will let you get the most out of a very expensive commodity, and stretch your foodplot dollar a long way. Lots of fertilizer is wasted between corn rows if you use a broadcast spreader, doing nothing but feeding weeds. By planting corn in rows, roundup can also be stretched a long way. No need for an expensive boom sprayer, as a cheap 12volt spot sprayer, directed on the rows, can be employed with a cultivator tractor. The cultivators will take out all the weeds between the rows (where they grow slow and sparse in unfertilized ground) without chemicals so the clover will come back the year after the corn (in the favorable, nitrogen-depleted soil), without needing to be reseeded. By minimizing the use of synthetic fertilizer, which is highly acidic, you will also help keep your soil ph in balance and reduce the need for heavy lime applications. This is another big cost savings, made possible to a large extent by those fertilizer hoppers. You may pay a little more for a planter with fertilizer hoppers but it dont take too long to get that money back. Sometimes you can even find them cheaper than planters without. Older, JD model 246/446 (3-point), or the pull version model 290/490 planters were only made with fertilizer hoppers. Due to age, and rust caused by poor upkeep, these are getting harder to find. Newer, model 71's were rarely made with dry fertilizer hoppers and these type without hoppers still usually fetch more cash than an older 246 or 290 with hoppers. Dont get fooled by those folks who market cut-down 71's equiped with insecticide applicators as "with fertilizer attachments". Real fertilizer hoppers are always larger than seed hoppers because, even at 75 lbs/acre, you are going to go thru a lot more volume of fertilizer than seed. Those little insecticide hoppers are not set up with the delivery rates needed for fertiizer, in addition to inadequate volume and corossion resistance. Are fertilizer hoppers a requirement, certainly not, but I couldnt afford to plant much corn without them.

Massey135
04-02-2011, 05:52 PM
Where are you in Va? I have a Deere 246 planter with fert hoppers in great shape I might be willing to sell.

Freeborn
04-02-2011, 09:06 PM
Personally, I would not buy one without fertilizer hoppers. The only fertilizer I use is around 75 lbs/acre of 15-15-15 applied at planting using the hoppers on my JD 246, 2-row corn planter. That is next to nothing compared to what most guys use. I get most of the nitrogen I need, for 150 bu/acre yields if I use a little roundup, from clover which had grown previously at the location, banking nitrogen in the soil. It dont make sense for a food-plotter to not plant corn on old clover ground, when you consider the facts that clover is the number one deer food plot, and the high prices of fertilizer these days. Those row fertilizer applicators will let you get the most out of a very expensive commodity, and stretch your foodplot dollar a long way. Lots of fertilizer is wasted between corn rows if you use a broadcast spreader, doing nothing but feeding weeds. By planting corn in rows, roundup can also be stretched a long way. No need for an expensive boom sprayer, as a cheap 12volt spot sprayer, directed on the rows, can be employed with a cultivator tractor. The cultivators will take out all the weeds between the rows (where they grow slow and sparse in unfertilized ground) without chemicals so the clover will come back the year after the corn (in the favorable, nitrogen-depleted soil), without needing to be reseeded. By minimizing the use of synthetic fertilizer, which is highly acidic, you will also help keep your soil ph in balance and reduce the need for heavy lime applications. This is another big cost savings, made possible to a large extent by those fertilizer hoppers. You may pay a little more for a planter with fertilizer hoppers but it dont take too long to get that money back. Sometimes you can even find them cheaper than planters without. Older, JD model 246/446 (3-point), or the pull version model 290/490 planters were only made with fertilizer hoppers. Due to age, and rust caused by poor upkeep, these are getting harder to find. Newer, model 71's were rarely made with dry fertilizer hoppers and these type without hoppers still usually fetch more cash than an older 246 or 290 with hoppers. Dont get fooled by those folks who market cut-down 71's equiped with insecticide applicators as "with fertilizer attachments". Real fertilizer hoppers are always larger than seed hoppers because, even at 75 lbs/acre, you are going to go thru a lot more volume of fertilizer than seed. Those little insecticide hoppers are not set up with the delivery rates needed for fertiizer, in addition to inadequate volume and corossion resistance. Are fertilizer hoppers a requirement, certainly not, but I couldnt afford to plant much corn without them.

Wolc123, Great post.

Are you cutting/discing your clover before you plant corn? Will a JD246 plant through clover? What is the rotation you are using?

I would like to rotate soybeans and corn on a continuous clover plot if possible.

Sorry for the questions but I will be planting 5 acres for the first time this year and what you are describing sounds like a good method.

Thanks,

Freeborn

wolc123
04-02-2011, 09:57 PM
I go from 2 to 5 years of clover between each year of corn. I do not usually need to reseed the clover after the corn because the only herbicide I use is roundup on the rows. For my sweetcorn (not for deer), I go with a 2 year clover rotation. For fieldcorn (for deer), I look for clover plots that are starting to get overtaken with grass, indicating that nitrogen is built up. I plow these areas shallow (4-6") with a moldboard plow, then disk a few times over several weeks, then put in the corn with the 246 (not a no-till planter). When the RR fieldcorn is about 12" high, I hit it with the cultivator and apply the roundup on the rows at the same time. I cultivate non RR sweetcorn 2-3 times, starting at about 6" and ending at about 3 ft. I do not fertilize the clover, nor do I apply herbicide, but I mow it 2-3 times a season. Aprox. 75%of my tillable acreage on any given year is white clover. The rest is mostly corn with a little brassica, rye/winter wheat, and pumpkins. I have not used soybeans, as the deer in my neck of the woods prefer corn by a big margin over anything else once gun season opens due to the cover it provides. I go wide with the planter in several spots on each 1-2 acre corn plot to form grassy bedding areas. I can usually hold more deer with multiple 1-2 acre corn plots than I can with a single larger plot.

Nova
04-02-2011, 10:28 PM
I have a 2 row planter and never use the fert buckets. I dics my plot, then broadcast my fert, disc again and plant. The fert buckets to me are a pain in the rear end. Especially with corn, you want to burry the Urea so it doesn't evaporate. No better way to do that then braodcast it one time before planting then disc it in and plant over it. Just my opinion.

Corkman
04-02-2011, 11:56 PM
Great post guys. There seems to be a difference of opinion but it all makes sense so I should be able to make something work. Thanks

Massey, I sent you a PM. Thanks

wolc123
04-03-2011, 07:05 AM
Nova, How often, and how much lime do you need to add to keep your PH in balance? What are you paying for Urea? Using them fertilizer buckets to minimize synthetic fertilizer and getting most of the N from old clover will greatly reduce those costs.

MNjohn
04-03-2011, 08:02 AM
The only thing the fert buckets are designed for is to put down starter fertilizer. If you get to much fert next to the seed you can hurt germination. I also bulk spread work in then plant.

wolc123
04-03-2011, 10:07 AM
MN I agree on the starter and purpose of the planter buckets, but if you take advantage of the N stored by clover, then a little starter (75 lb/acre 15-15-15) is all you need for decent yields (up to 150 bu/acre with weed control). Using a broadcast spreader to put down Urea and tilling it in prior to planting is terribly wastefull. The corn dont need the nitrogen that much until a few weeks after germination and much of it will be gone by then even if it was tilled in. You would be better off to broadcast a few weeks after germination, right before a rain, or sidedress if you choose to do without the "free" nitrogen from old clover. That free nitrogen becomes available as the plowed-under clover begins to decompose, in perfect time for the growing corn, assuming you plowed shallow in the spring. The way fertilizer prices are heading, wasting it is not something that will be affordable for too many. There is certainly a better way for foodplotters at least.

Freeborn
04-03-2011, 10:19 AM
You would be better off to broadcast a few weeks after germination, right before a rain, or sidedress if you choose to do without the "free" nitrogen from old clover.

Wolc123,

What methods can you use to sidedress fertilizer? It would seem to make sense if it were not to difficult to get good results. It seems that broadcasting would be easy and effective but you are correct that fertilizer has its negatives.

Lets say you don't have enough tillable land to use clover fields like you describe, can you sidedress enough fertilizer a few weeks after planting to get the yield you want assuming PH is at the appropriate level?

wolc123
04-03-2011, 10:25 AM
My cultivator tractor (Farmall Cub) came with a sidedress attachment. This is a bucket that bolts to the side of the tractor and a little gear-drive delivery mechanism with a tube down to a shovel that works the fertilizer into the ground along the row so you dont have to try and time the rain. I never used it and I think I gave it away or sent it to the scrapyard. Cultivator setups on Farmall A's and many other makes also come with these attachments. It is a good way to put in urea compared to broadcasting prior to planting.

biglakeba$$
04-03-2011, 11:33 AM
Lets say you don't have enough tillable land to use clover fields like you describe,

Exact issue I have. Not enough acres available to do the clover.

Currently I have a total of 6-7 acres I can use for corn/beans. I would love to be able to do some clover and work corn into it, but it shrinks my available area for annuals too much for my liking.

wolc123
04-03-2011, 03:24 PM
For those with limited tillable acreage, alternating soybeans and corn every other year is a good compromise. That wont give you the nitrogen credits that 2-5 years of clover will but it is a step in the right direction and will allow some reduction in urea to get good yields from the corn. Soybeans and clover are going to build the most nitrogen when they are actively growing. Production from clover is maximized by keeping it clipped a few times a season. I would expect a soybean variety like Eagle that is planted more for forage than pods will do better at nitrogen production. If the beans are left to produce mature pods, I would guess that much of the stored nitrogen is lost. I dont think there are many folks who put in small soybean plots that the deer let reach maturity anyhow so that is probably not something you need to worry about.

Redonthehead
04-04-2011, 09:58 AM
I've pulled my FIL's 246 (he bought new in the 60's) out of the barn and wire-brushed the coulters/blades for an attempt at corn this year. Re-built the end bearings on the rear wheel shaft.

The fertilizer system may be too troublesome to get freed-up to work. The question I had - and I had seen it here somewhere - was someone claimed the units were not design to handle todays larger "BB/buckshot" sized fertilizer pellets. Anyone know if that is true or not?

I'm leaning towards just broadcasting the fertilizer but the idea of laying down a line in the soil just outside the seed row sure sounds good.

Nova
04-04-2011, 11:36 AM
Nova, How often, and how much lime do you need to add to keep your PH in balance? What are you paying for Urea? Using them fertilizer buckets to minimize synthetic fertilizer and getting most of the N from old clover will greatly reduce those costs.

I have not had to lime at all yet. Paying roughly $35 an acre for Urea. This application allows me to spread fert one time for the year which also saves time and money

farm hunter
04-04-2011, 11:20 PM
I alternate - corn/Soybeans/clover in varying order. The fertilizer hoppers on my 4 row corn planter went by the wayside long ago. I miss them - side dressing at planting is definitely the way to go. Other ways work - especially using Round Up ready corn, We broadcast 20-20-20 about 200 lbs/acre at planting - sometimes adding Urea too (depending on what was in the field last year) - and disk it in - then plant.

You don't want to do this without Glyphosate -or another good herbicide. The weeds get a jump on the corn at planting this way and you need to stay on top of them and spray before they are 6-8" tall. Timed right -1 good application is all you need.