New tools can eliminate residue problems to help corn seedlings grow tall and strong.

Using no-till planting techniques can make soil healthier and reduce time in the field. But too much residue can mean a tougher time for seeding and seedling emergence. Here are two innovative products that can give a helping hand to both the seeding process and the plant's growth.

Furrow closer. Four years of welding and tweaking have finally paid off for Matt Hagny. His new Hagny HCS closing system is now available for both drills and planters.

According to farmer and company spokesman Charles Long, Hagny designed his system to produce better seedling emergence and stronger root development.

“This system slices and breaks down the sidewall so the seed is covered with soil in the trench but it isn't compacted,” Long states. “The seed is then firmed by a seed firmer that's positioned ahead of the closing wheel.”

Spoked wheels are held at a vertical, 50° angle; spoke tips meet at the midline of the furrow. The spokes shear completely through the furrow's sidewall and push fragmented soil into the furrow, as the wheel rotates.

On planters, the Hagny HCS replaces the original closing wheel frame with a new mounting block and two independent arms; each arm holds a spoked wheel in a staggered position. The system works with most planters and/or gauge-wheel drills. According to Long, use of the system produced up to an 8-bu./acre advantage when it was used on dryland corn in Kansas.

Price: $38/row for a John Deere 750 drill; $165 to $195/row for a row-crop planter. Spoked wheels are necessary: If your machine isn't equipped with them, they are $65 each. Two wheels are needed per planter row; one wheel is needed per drill row. Contact Exapta Solutions, a div. of Pinnacle Crop Tech. Inc., Dept. FIN, Box 952, Salina, KS 67402, 785/820-8000.

Eliminate residue lodging. ARS researchers in Pendleton, OR, have designed a new device to eliminate material that can lodge on a seed drill's furrow-opening shank. Once material is stuck in the shank, it gets dragged along with the equipment, leaving piles of residue all over the field, spilling into adjacent seedbeds. This can smother seedlings as they try to emerge.

This attachment has a rubber wheel with flexible fingers that attach next to each furrow opener on the drill. The fingers pin the residue to the soil surface and hold it in place as the seed gets planted, preventing the plant material from lodging in the drill.

The scientists tested their prototype where narrow-row crops — such as wheat with heavy residue — are common. They report that seeding with the wheel attachment increased the number of seedlings 10 to 50%, depending on field conditions. ARS has applied for a patent on this attachment. Contact ARS Information Staff, Dept. FIN, 5601 Sunnyside Ave., Room 1-2251, Beltsville, MD 20705, 301/504-1617.