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AGCO educates farmers in crop yield-boosting agronomy practices in Zambia

AGCO, Your Agriculture Company welcomed commercial and emerging farmers to its Zambia Crop Tour focused on educating growers to enhance crop yield through improved agronomy practices

The crop tour covered the complete science of maize production, from soil quality characteristics and tillage systems to factors affecting corn growth and development and the use of equipment and technology.

Practical demonstrations were at the heart of the day-long event. Test plots of maize were planted at the AGCO Future Farm in December 2018 to enable crop tour visitors to evaluate how different approaches to agronomy, planting, equipment settings and usage affect growth and yield.

Visitors were able to see how uneven depth changes the distance for a seedling to exit the ground and reach sunlight.

“We have found that plants emerging later will produce significantly less yield because of competition. Precise placement is similar: two plants being too close together create competition for vital resources. If they are both competing in a small area, they are not able to maximise their yield potential,” noted the company.

One of the test plots planted with a Massey Ferguson planter equipped with DeltaForce, for example, showed a seven per cent improvement in maize yield compared to planters equipped with spring or airbag downforce systems.

In another trial, participants learned how important it is to avoid skips and doubles, terms used to describe planter mistakes resulting in misplaced seeds. If just 5% of seeds get skipped, growers will lose approximately five per cent in yield. On the other hand, doubles typically do not cause dramatic yield loss, instead, they represent wasted seeds. AGCO’s Massey Ferguson planter equipped with Vset meters from Precision Planting achieved 99 per cent seed singulation in the field trials.

Darren Goebel, director for global agronomy and farm solutions based in the US at AGCO, said, “The crop tour is one of AGCO’s unique initiatives focused on demonstrating best-practice agronomy and aimed at finding ways to improve crop yields using new innovative agricultural machinery solutions. Our field demonstrations analyse how growers can better understand the role of agricultural equipment in optimising crop production systems. We want to equip farmers with the very best knowledge in order that they can apply it to their own enterprises and get the most from their crops.”

“Farmers pay very close attention to the selection of hybrids, fertilisers and crop protection products,” he added. “This same scrutiny is required for tillage, planting and sprayers. Ensuring machinery does its job as precisely as possible has a big impact on yield outcome.”

Massey Ferguson planters are available from two rows up to 36 rows and working widths from 45cm up to 27.36m. Planting solutions include monitors, sensors and meters which can be retrofitted to existing equipment. These hi-tech precision systems contribute to better seed spacing, better depth control and better root systems, all of which increase yield potential.