Variable seeding is often recognised as the fastest return on your investment with VR inputs and generally the benefits can be seen in the first year of implementation. Reducing limiting factors caused by poor establishment will in turn boost the overall yield of a field – however we do need to consider what we are trying to achieve with VR Seeding.
The first thing to remember is that compared to nutrition and crop protection spends, seed is relatively low cost and whilst being the first application in that crop’s life, is arguably the most important to target and get right. You can’t go out in the spring and throw a bit more seed at the thin areas and expect the same yield potential as an autumn sown crop.
VR seeding has historically been used to even up the establishment and provide a more homogenous crop going into the spring enabling growers to have greater efficacy of spring inputs. Generally, Soil type will drive variation in crop establishment, but VR seeding can also be used to target other areas of interest, such as weed pressure, pest pressure, turning headlands and shading.
Once emerged from winter, we switch from the ‘establishment’ to the ‘development’ phase of the crop’s life where yield is very much set by the weather between February and harvest. VR Seeding allows us to ensure that we have not set any limiting factors from the point of establishment and no areas of the field drops below the desired plant count coming out of winter (GS21-23) allowing for maximum yield potential.