When is the row spacing too wide?

Discussion in 'Direct Drilling Machinery' started by Kaad, Jan 22, 2013.

  1. Kaad

    Kaad Member

    My issues/questions are:

    When do we lose yields in cereals because of wide row spacing on strip-till drills? (band seeding drills)

    And what coulter can solve the possible problem?

    Different row spacings:
    Claydon Hybrid 4 meter have a row spacing on 30,7 cm (cirka 12,3")
    Claydon Hybrid 4,8 meter have a row spacing on 32 cm (cirka 12,8")
    Claydon Hybrid 6 meter have a row spacing on 31,6 cm (cirka 12,5")

    Mzuri pro-til 3 meter have a row spacing on 33,3 cm (ca. 13.3")
    Mzuri Pro-til 4 meter have a row spacing on 36,3 cm (ca. 14,5")
    Mzuri Zip-til 4,8 meter have a row spacing on 32 cm (ca. 12,8")

    The listed drills are just to show the different row spacings..

    There are more than 5 cm or 2" in difference from a 4 meter Claydon to a 4 meter Mzuri - when do the row spacing get too wide to spoil the yields?

    Both the drills seeds in a band of around 12 cm or 4,8"

    Any trials that proofs the matter of the row spacing in band seeded crops like wheat and barley?
  2. Martin Lole

    Martin Lole Member

    Hi Asbjorn

    From my experience the effectiveness of the coulter (seed placement) is of far more importance than row spacing.
    Independent coulters, each placing the seed at a constant depth will have a far greater yield advantage over a drill with fix coulters that can not place seed at a consistent depth.
    If a drill adopts the cheap option of fixed coulters, another disadvantage will be the absence of a depth / reconsolidation wheel that ensures good soil to seed contact.

  3. Kaad

    Kaad Member


    You say: "From my experience the effectiveness of the coulter (seed placement) is of far more importance than row spacing."

    But at some stage the row spacing will be too wide.. or?
    I believe you will agree that fx. 20" (50 cm) will be too wide even though the coulters are independent.

    I guess it's possible to solve by adding a coulter able to seed in a wider band, but it will create new issues such as HP requirement etc.

    I agree with you that the independent coulters have an advantage over the fixed coulters!

  4. Martin Lole

    Martin Lole Member

    Point taken, going over 14" rows is pushing it, however rule of thumb I believe the band should be a 1/3 the width of the row spacing when drilling cereals.
    Also with strip-till drilling, the increased light interception plays a very important role in healthy plant development and improved bushel weight.
  5. Kaad

    Kaad Member

    Point taken, going over 14" rows is pushing it, however rule of thumb I believe the band should be a 1/3 the width of the row spacing when drilling cereals.

    Good answer Martin, thank you.

    I will talk to a Danish DD/min-till agronomist about this topic.

    Also with strip-till drilling, the increased light interception plays a very important role in healthy plant development and improved bushel weight.

    Agree to that!

    Good night!

    I hope that anyone else have an opinion to this topic!
  6. doorknob

    doorknob Member

    I realize that most in the UK do not have water issues with it being scare, but rather instead with too much.

    However, in places of very low rain fall cereal production, a lot of research has shown the water holding capacity of your soils and timing of planting will have a large, if not the largest impact on your row spacing choices.

    In my personal, non documented or in any way viable data, in higher rainfall areas, any spacing that does not have roots meeting the next row by jointing is going to begin reducing the yield.

    That said, after some discussion at length with a neighbor that has been on 14" row cereals for many years now vs. the common spacings of 6 to 7", he has no intention of going back after seeing that the quality of the grain in the wide spacings, more than made up for the slightly lower yield.

    He and I both noticed that where planting right next to a field of close spaced wheat, the moisture would run out much earlier and the end of the heads would shrivel. Where as the wider spacing like he and I use, continues to fill and produce plump, viable kernels.

    Also the in row kernel spacing seems to have some effect on tiller counts. Too many unsustainable tillers per plant seems to reduce yield in many publications.


    So I would rather focus on what row spacing it takes to produce the heaviest test weight, and highest quality grains, vs. the highest field yield. This makes it much easier to harvest and store.

  7. Robigus

    Robigus Member

    Sudbury, Suffolk
    I did try to raise this question on the old BFF site but unfortunately no one ran with it there.

    TAG-Direct – who don’t appear to be back on either forum at the moment – did appear to allude to the issue in an earlier posting, but had not followed up on it. It may, understandably, be part of their paid research; or I may have misunderstood the posting.

    An original 4 metre Mzuri with 11 coulters will sow cereals in what I think were 5 cms bands. That means that each band has 15 ½ cms each side to utilise. A vigorous crop like OSR will surely get roots into this zone fairly quickly, but would less vigorous crops fail to utilise the nutrients in this area?
  8. Elmsted

    Elmsted Never Forgotten

    Just some jottings of my experience with row spacing. In Hungary on the sandy prone soils often seen spread on the surface seed cereal spread, harowed then rolled, next to rows at 15 cm spacing final yeilds higher in broadcast. TGW slightly higher in broadcast I think due to spatial arrangement. Hence equal nutrition, sunlight interception, moisture usage and retention being better.
    Sugar beet in France North of Paris 45 cm rows, south 50 cm reason bigger beet south and on 45 a yeild penalty.
    Forage maize moved the goal posts when Kemper introduced it's header which operates without regard for row spacing.
    Rows are an invention of the esteemed Jethro Tull, Mother nature by default uses randomness to multiply. ( spelling unde spell chek)
    We have the technology and ability to plant rows East to West, hence maximising the sunlight. Cereals as a default setting grow taller than broad lefed weeds and can significantly reduce weed impact by shadow, moisture and nutrient uptake.
    To an extent the row spacing is a function of our ability to harvest. Or plant. Yet regardless we apply inputs by the square metre not by the linear metre.
    100 seeds planted per sq metre on a 10 cm row at 10 cm between each in down the row spacing is surely the optimum. With no axe to grind what the Herriau drill could do.

    Just a view.
  9. MX7

    MX7 Member

    There was a member on the old British Farming Forum,who I think if my memory is correct establishes his cereals by lightly discing the soil and then broadcasts the seed,so NO rows, and then lightly disced it in then rolled . Please correct me if I had the sequence incorrect. I am sure he has be using the system successfully for several years in France.
  10. combineguy

    combineguy Member

    New Zealand

    I know in relation to traditional drills that sow in rows, the row spacing depends on what you are sowing, and how strong the stems are, as some cereals especially barley don't have strong stems, and they rely on the intertwining nature of other stems for support. If the plant cannot support itself it will curl over and the heads will droop, and you will just cut them off when harvesting.

    I think by memory wheat you should be able to get 12 inch but barley only 10 inch due to this
  11. combineguy

    combineguy Member

    New Zealand
    I know in some years over here in NZ people do this especially if it is getting wet and they want to get planting. But they do the second pass with a power harrow just lightly scuffing the surface enough to give some soil coverage.

    Or in self sown crops you can run some stock over the paddock, just to give enough consolidation of the seed.

    At the local FAR (Foundation for Arable Research) they had a paddock which was sown by broadcasting the seed, and visually you could not see much difference
  12. SorenIlsoe

    SorenIlsoe Member

    In the new magazine from Germanu called LOP, there is an article from a trial with different row spacings in 2010-2012 and in two WW varieties.
    The results was in average in the variety Akteur (100 = index for yield at 12,5 cm rows):
    12,5 cm: 100
    16,6 cm: 99
    25,0 cm: 81
    33,2 cm: 68

    The variety Turkis:
    12,5 cm: 100
    16,6 cm: 100
    25,0 cm: 96
    33,2 cm: 82

    In year 2010 was the highest yields at 16,6 cm.
    In one variety they harvested 11,4 t/ha with 440 ears/m2 at 16,6 cm compared to 11,7 t/ha with 604 ears/m2 at 12,5 cm rows. This shows that grains size and grains/ear can compensate a lot.
    In the years 2010&2011 25 cm rows yielded index 99 to 96, but in 2012 it collapsed for the variety Akteur to index 66. Propably because of hard winter and dead plants.
    What they do not tell is the band width? I think it was very narrow as by a disc drill.
    But if it is drilled with a tine-seeder the row distance can be 25 cm but if the bands are 4" or 6" wide, it changes a lot?
    So my point is: a 33 cm row spacing with a Claydon or Mzuri could mean perhaps 23 cm free of plants with bands of 10 cm.
    A 25 cm row with a Horsch Airseeder with 1½" GEN openers will leave 21 cm without plants between the rows.
    A 25 cm row with a Horsch Airseeder with 6" GEN openers will only leave 10 cm without plants between the rows.
    Kaad likes this.
  13. RBM

    RBM Member

    This is the only area of concern in that when it mentions, say 25 or 30 cm row width, are we talking about single row width as opposed to a band and presumably this is not the same for band sowing?

    We planted a field of wheat two years ago, half with a Claydon and half with a vaderstad and there was nothing between the yields, maybe marginally in favour of the claydon. Have done a similar experiment this year on a field planted with a horsch and claydon again.

    I'm thinking that the wider rows work well on osr, but not so sure for wheat?
  14. Elmsted

    Elmsted Never Forgotten

    We have the independence coming here this year. If it does what it says. Then another lot of row spacing can be dispensed with. And get back to spatial arangement. Maybe.

    The two Great plains planter for maize trials show a yeild increase. And look at two row maize take up in North America. Soya of course has moved on in the last coupla decades.

    Regarding Sorens post on wheat row widths and RBM. In what I can read 10 cm is better than 12.5 and thats better than 16.6. What are claydon and Vaddy. Or strip planters.

    Something maybe to be said for Hepworth and his German soil destroyer, but random arrangement with a Dutzi. ?
  15. York

    York Member

    Now let's get some more details into the picture. The article is referring to some trails done which where co sponsored by Amazone & one of the major chemical companies.
    Besides the yield difference they have also found:
    - as wider the rows as higher the pressure on diseases was
    Just this is one thing which doesn't correlate with what I have heard of people which planted wheat over the years in 33cm rows, with a Heriau precision planter. And also what we hear from others which work with wider rows.
    So for me there are some things which have caused this differences but it must not be the row width. Because we can find other results as well.
    Just forget this article. Not because it is not supporting a "point" which I want to follow but because there are some "contradictions" in him which should be addressed and solved firstly before I use this results for my decision on row width.
  16. SorenIlsoe

    SorenIlsoe Member

    York: Normally trials here in Denmark are reliable, because they are either done by the State scientists/universities or the knowledge center. The results are free ands public. Both are indenpendant sources without special interests. I think that i rather unusual.
    So I can't spot what is behind the author from "Hanse Agro".
    I know that you have Fachhochschule and Universities in Germany doing trials also. Any trails from that source about row spacings?
    But as I understand it, is Amazone now producing and selling 2 models tine seeders with 25 cm rows??? Mostly for Eastern Europe and the normal RoTec drills for Western Europa and the plowing people.
  17. York

    York Member

    OH, I'm not saying that they are biased at all. The point I want to make is that they are bound, like state paid research in dhe "limitations" of sience they have agreed to be under.
    Let's look some more into detail:
    - when they do a trial they say we only can change one factor. in this case it's the row width. If they do more than one the whole thing will just blow up like a balloon in needed size, number of plots to still have statistical value.
    - when you do such as row width trial they kept the seeding rate identical:
    same seeding rate with 160 kg/ha = 360 seeds m2 "Einheitlicher Saatstärke 160 kg/ha – 360 Körner / qm"​
    one comment was: the inner row competition was increasing, resulting in reducing of tillers, plants etc.​
    sorry, why not start it from a different angel? let's assume that each plant needs "x"cm in a row, this results in adapted seeding rates, or? This is relation is known, why not applied?​
    There has been quite a lot of research in the 70's & 80's on the topic of even spacing seeding etc.. so the "rules" should be common knowledge, or?

    I only can say that we have farmers which use low seeding rates down to 40 to 50 seeds/m2 and they get normal yields, which are in their region between 6 to 8 t/ha in Tritikale. And this is with a row spacing of 19 cm and also when he uses a Horsch Airseeder.
  18. Elmsted

    Elmsted Never Forgotten

    York and Sorem.

    Two things stand out from my perspective. One is normal yeilds, Two is why rows.

    I also observe that sugar Beet cultivar trials done in sub Paris Beauce region in the days. Is always done in optimum spatial arrangement not rows. Yes of course requires hand harvesting.

    But given replicates and normaly established co-iffecients of variation where derived by using rows. One has a statical bias. I think that is kinda what I am saying.
  19. Fred

    Fred Member

    Mid Northants
    Forgive me but what you are saying is that best system is broadcast , due to the fact that every seed has equi distance around it , thus saying that it has a better chance to access nutrients equally with less competition from its close neighbours,

    The issue being seed does better if sown, or does it?
  20. Elmsted

    Elmsted Never Forgotten

    What I am saying is that perfect spatial arrangement is best. For simple example. 10 cm rows and a seed at every 10 cms. This allows optimum usage of water, light, and nutrients. Of course this is not easily acheivable unless one plants on less than 10 cm rows or have technology allowing closer seed spacing. As York I have used Herriau which goes but a small way to acheiving this.

    It is my wish to exploit every square metre to it's optimum all the time on is limited to applying inputs on every square metre. hence whilst appreciative of this forum being no till or is it direct till. The distribution systems used by many for slug pellets or avadex granules might be a way forward. Substituting precision for random as in my earlier post here.
    Yes of course one can head on down the route of precision fert and inter row spraying etc. But I query it's cost ratio benefit.

    A swift glance at plants next to tramlines and on field extremities show something interesting which bears this out. As does edge effect in small trials. If doing a trial do 3 random replicates of at least a hectare each and combine with normal combine not plot trial size. Then weigh results.

    Seed provided by the parent plant cares not a dam in to what environment it is cast. It is from our perspective as farmers we wish to give each one the maximum possibility to grow.
    Mother nature does not drill, have depth control, rollers, vaddys Mzuris, Moores etc. She just produces enough to ensure survival and replication.
    York likes this.

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