About this time every year in basketball “March Madness” occurs and if a team wins or loses, this is how the sports world figures out who the best team in the nation is. After a loss, the losing coach when interviewed is asked about the loss and the teams plans to improve. The answer that is given most often is that we just need to the work harder and remember the “basic fundamentals” of the game. Many things associated with the game may change but to be a winner, applying the “basic fundamentals” and adhering to the “basic fundamentals” during a game is what will make that team a winner.
So how does the game of basketball relate to planting crops? Over the past few years many changes have occurred in the game of planting too. One of the more recent changes that occurred is the technology associated with planting. Technology has improved planting in many ways such as RTK may be driving the equipment and the guy that used to drive is now going along for a ride. The satellites associated with technology also help with row direction, straightness and width efficiency. Companies like Trimble Manufacturing offer GPS, lasers, optics and positioning hardware to help save seed, correctly apply fertilizer and chemicals, and many other available options if you have the need and the resources to add them on. Almost everything can be adjusted or manipulated in some way on the go with the goal of saving time, saving money plus increasing overall efficiency.
Modern technology is great, it works and it’s here to stay plus many more technological options will be made available as the years go by. But, just like the game of basketball, crop planting has some “basic fundamentals” that you need to “apply” and “adhere to” in order to be the winner. Your “three point shot” in the field is only completed with good seed to soil contact. Just like a three point shot in basketball, getting good seed to soil contact takes practice and patience in order to get the planter set/adjusted right according to soil and field conditions. Your “two point shot” in the paint is proper seed depth. Improper depth can cause problems all year long from standability, harvestability and yield potential. Your “lay-up” is planter speed. In basketball, if you push that lay-up too hard or fast, chances are it might bounce out. The same goes for planter speed; going too fast might cause seed to jump at different depths or take away from proper spacing. Your “free throws” are the added things that you can do as you plant. Examples might include proper seed treatments as we plant crops earlier or in questionable seed beds, proper placement of fertilizer or starter in relation to the seed drop itself are just a couple of the free throw possibilities. Expect a “technical foul” if you push things along too fast and try to plant in poor soil conditions. And lastly, you will “foul out” if you (1) don’t understand the hybrid/varietyyou are planting, (2) don’t scout your fields, (3) have weed pressure, (4) don’t improve on poor soil fertility, (5) have a hard pan, or (6) don’t plant at the optimum planting dates.