My internal debate on implements . . . need advice

Dukslayr

5 year old buck +
Hello -

I’m new to this particular forum but was a long time follower and contributor back on the QDMA forums. In the last 5 years I’ve moved on to a couple new properties since the QDMA forum days and I now own a more diverse piece of northern MO property with some larger food plotting opportunities/needs. Here’s the background:

The property I recently bought is 200 total acres; of which 125 acres of that is enrolled in CRP. The slopes in the CRP are decent and the land was mostly tiled and terraced from years ago but has been in the CRP program for nearly 2 full enrollments. The land has a lot of good options for food plots and based on my contract I should be okay to put in around 10 or so acres of food plots. The list of equipment I own for food plotting includes:

1. Kubota L3830 (38 hp/30 hp PTO) with a front end loader
2. Pull behind 50 gallon boom sprayer
3. ATV/UTV mounted 25 gallon boom sprayer
4. 2 different 3 pt discs (a 5' and 6' I believe)
5. 3 pt mounted spreader & also chest/strap mounted seeders
6. S-tine cultivator (6 shanks)
7. 12' cultipacker
8. 6' brush cutter

A couple of the above in inherited with the farm I just purchased. I also inherited a 12 (I think) chisel plow that I don't believe my tractor can handle. For the last 5 years I've been only maintaining about 1.5 acres worth of food plots and so my needs were very easily met with small implements and hand spreaders. I primarily have been planting and maintaining clover and wheat/rye, which obviously don't require a ton of work/maintenance. I'd like to expand my abilities to include corn, soybean, sunflowers, etc and I don't feel like the equipment I've got is going to lend its self well to "row" type crops. Here are my options as I see it. Just curious what you all would do in this situation and good options or thoughts that I'm missing here.

1. Keep my current equipment and rely on contracting with a local farmer for row crop planting. The pros I see here are: 1. Minimal capital investment for me. 2. Minimal time requirement to actually do the work. 3. Potentially better crop outcomes since this person would obviously know what they're doing from a planting perspective. The biggest negative I see are finding someone to do this for me (which may or may not be a challenge since there are several very large local farmers near me) and the yearly cost to do the planting on an annual basis.

2. Keep my current tractor and purchase some additional food plotting equipment that my tractor is capable of handling. I don't think my tractor is capable of handling a true "no till" style drill from the limited amount of research I've done on the. I see some the lighter models are probably light enough for come with some issues relative to ground contact and seed depth. I would probably add a 6' tiller and some sort of grain drill to use after prepping the seed bed(s) with the cultivator/disc/tiller. Obviously this would come with a bigger time and effort from a mowing, spraying, tilling then planting perspective. And I've never used a drill or planter before so there'd be some sort of learning curve here. The investment in a planter/drill and tiller wouldn't be huge though.

3. Upgrade my tractor to something in the 90 hp range and find an actual no-till drill to go along with it. Obviously this would come with, by far and away, the biggest initial up front investment (although with some tax advantages as well). I don't know how to use a no-till drill but I'm assuming I could get a pretty good tutorial from wherever I bought the drill from, particularly if it's the same place that the tractor came form. My goal here would be to purchase a late model tractor (mid 2000s) and used drill in the 6-8' range. My assumption is that if I buy the right drill and tractor I could sell my smaller tractor and not really need ton of additional equipment to get where I want to be. As I understand it, I could mow, spray and then drill most seeds (not sure about corn). Not sure how easy it would be to make soil amendments if needed without till in them in (i.e. not sure if lime, urea, etc can just be broadcasted without incorporation with any real degree of success).

Sorry for the long post, but any thoughts in general you have on the above scenarios would be warranted. I'm leaning towards trying to have a farmer plant 4 acres of beans and 4 acres of corn for me to give it a test run before making a big investment, but I really have very little doubt that adding some row crops into my food plotting arsenal is going to be very beneficial. Anyone have any idea what it would cost to have a farmer do some "custom planting" on a per acre basis (assuming the fields are easily accessible and they're using their own seeds)? Thank you for any input your suggestions you have!

Thomas
 

Bill

Administrator
I remember you from the old days..welcome.

Not a lot of answers. But I think it's hard to get a farmer to put in crops for you. Most of the true farmers around me are so busy with thier crop planting in the spring that they don't want to mess with plots.
Now if you have 2 4 acre plots getting it sprayed shouldn't be to hard. The sprayer outfits around me would do that. They don't like my plots because I have a bunch of small odd shaped stuff.

There are some guys that put food plots in around here but I don't know the charge per acre.

What you have would work but you might have to hire to have it disked the first time. Years of CRP ground won't turn easy with a small disk. But once it has been disked the first time, your stuff should work.

I bit the bullet years ago and bought a Great Plains 6 foot drill. It and or a land pride will plant corn. It just cracks some seed and skips once in while but these are plots not ag fields so who cares.

I don't fertilize often but I have just broadcast urea before a good rain and made out ok with corn. Lime will leach in from the surface. Guys with hay fields around me just broadcast on top and let the rain do its thing.

Spray, mow and throw will work with smaller seeds but I've had mixed results with beans and would try it with corn.
 

Ben.MN/WI

5 year old buck +
I plant soybeans and corn with a broadcast spreader and a 6' 3 point disk and the plots turn out pretty good. It sounds like you have more than that already, so I don't think you need to buy anything if you are only doing 10 acres.

I disk up the ground, broadcast the fertilizer and seed required and lightly disk over it. That's it. Normally I follow up with round up a month later and then one month after that if needed.

Bill is right about the sod being tough to disk up the first time. Either have someone else dig if up for you first or wait until it starts growing next spring and spray it with round up. Maybe come back a month later and spray then if necessary. Once the roots die and start to decompose it will be much easier to dig up. I would go with soybeans that first year since you can plant them in early june and still get a good crop. That will give you time to spray the fields, kill off the sod, disk it up and still plant your soybeans in time for a decent crop.
 

j-bird

Moderator
It all depends on the value of your time. I have a 6' disc. I can't imagine the time it would take to plot 10 acres annually with it! Perennial plots are a once every few years sort of things so those are different. If your turning dirt every year - 10 acres is a lot with a 6' wide tool. Consider you may need to make more than one pass...and it may really take some of the fun out of it. Depending on the soil you have and the like, you may need something to turn the soil first before you disc it as well... I have become a fan of a rototiller...but they are not cheap.
 

Tree Spud

5 year old buck +
I agree with J-Bird ^^^

I have a 6' disk & culitipacker and plant about 8-10 acres every year. It consumes a lot of time to prep, seed, then cultipack. I bought and old used seed drill and that sure beats broadcast seeding by hand. It does a better job of getting the seed into & covered with soil.

The issue with hiring out your planting, is that you are at the mercy of the weather and farmers schedules. Around here, farmers plant their fields first and everything on the farm takes priority over them planting food plot fields.

I think if you consider a seed drill you will like the results.
 

Boll Weevil

5 year old buck +
I agree with J-Bird ^^^
Me too.
Time, regardless of task, is a huge factor when you're scaling up because of adding more ground.
 

Turkish

5 year old buck +
If you’re willing to throw and mow, you have what you need. Upgrading to a tractor and a drill will save a little planting time but will make timing your sowing less critical, in my opinion. We use throw and mow on about 5 acres now and could swing a little more acreage without too much fuss. Our equipment is a notch smaller than yours. And we’ve never use me a no till drill yet, fwiw.
 

swat1018

5 year old buck +
Where in MO? Just a word of warning, with that much cover in N. MO, you better have big plots of corn/beans or an e-fence. The good thing about summer annuals is that if they fail, you just throw rye in. A bean plot less than 5 acres won't make it, and a 5 acre won't on a dry one like we just had. I've had way more fails than successes with annuals, but my rye/oats have never failed me. Don't forget sorghum/milo. I can't get corn to mature for the pressure, but they leave milo alone to mature and produce grain. They are really starting to hit mine now. Not to discourage, but food for thought. I also have a 6' GP no-till drill.
 

Dukslayr

5 year old buck +
I remember you from the old days..welcome.

Not a lot of answers. But I think it's hard to get a farmer to put in crops for you. Most of the true farmers around me are so busy with thier crop planting in the spring that they don't want to mess with plots.
Now if you have 2 4 acre plots getting it sprayed shouldn't be to hard. The sprayer outfits around me would do that. They don't like my plots because I have a bunch of small odd shaped stuff.

There are some guys that put food plots in around here but I don't know the charge per acre.

What you have would work but you might have to hire to have it disked the first time. Years of CRP ground won't turn easy with a small disk. But once it has been disked the first time, your stuff should work.

I bit the bullet years ago and bought a Great Plains 6 foot drill. It and or a land pride will plant corn. It just cracks some seed and skips once in while but these are plots not ag fields so who cares.

I don't fertilize often but I have just broadcast urea before a good rain and made out ok with corn. Lime will leach in from the surface. Guys with hay fields around me just broadcast on top and let the rain do its thing.

Spray, mow and throw will work with smaller seeds but I've had mixed results with beans and would try it with corn.

Thank you Bill. Appreciate the insight. I have a line on a couple guys in my area that do “custom food plots”. I may look into what they would charge to give me a good one year trial run on a couple plots. Could be worth the money for an experiment and to get the ground worked. The good news is the previous owner had a 90 hp tractor and worked up some good plots...I’ll just need to make them bigger.

Where in MO? Just a word of warning, with that much cover in N. MO, you better have big plots of corn/beans or an e-fence. The good thing about summer annuals is that if they fail, you just throw rye in. A bean plot less than 5 acres won't make it, and a 5 acre won't on a dry one like we just had. I've had way more fails than successes with annuals, but my rye/oats have never failed me. Don't forget sorghum/milo. I can't get corn to mature for the pressure, but they leave milo alone to mature and produce grain. They are really starting to hit mine now. Not to discourage, but food for thought. I also have a 6' GP no-till drill.

In Harrison Co. The plan was to actually contract someone to plant 5 contiguous acres of Eagle forage soybeans (or plant them myself). I had fantastic results with them on a previous property and never had a problem getting plants to maturity. I olantee 3 acres eagle and 2 acres ag (side by side) in a heavily deer infested area and th majority of both made it through to produce good pods. I recall the last year I hunted that field I lost count at 94 deer in the field at the same time on January 15th.

It’s a bummer to hear about you luck with corn. I was really hoping to get reasonable results with a 5 acre field...but it sounds like you’ve not had success with that? I don’t plan to use any fencing. Obviously this year was hard on everything and Mother Nature will do her thing. My plans were to plant 2 different 4-5 acre (contiguous) plots - one beans and one corn - with several other smaller 1/2 acre fields of various things (clover, brassicas, etc) to get started. How big have the corn/bean fields you’ve had decimated been?
 

swat1018

5 year old buck +
Thank you Bill. Appreciate the insight. I have a line on a couple guys in my area that do “custom food plots”. I may look into what they would charge to give me a good one year trial run on a couple plots. Could be worth the money for an experiment and to get the ground worked. The good news is the previous owner had a 90 hp tractor and worked up some good plots...I’ll just need to make them bigger.



In Harrison Co. The plan was to actually contract someone to plant 5 contiguous acres of Eagle forage soybeans (or plant them myself). I had fantastic results with them on a previous property and never had a problem getting plants to maturity. I olantee 3 acres eagle and 2 acres ag (side by side) in a heavily deer infested area and th majority of both made it through to produce good pods. I recall the last year I hunted that field I lost count at 94 deer in the field at the same time on January 15th.

It’s a bummer to hear about you luck with corn. I was really hoping to get reasonable results with a 5 acre field...but it sounds like you’ve not had success with that? I don’t plan to use any fencing. Obviously this year was hard on everything and Mother Nature will do her thing. My plans were to plant 2 different 4-5 acre (contiguous) plots - one beans and one corn - with several other smaller 1/2 acre fields of various things (clover, brassicas, etc) to get started. How big have the corn/bean fields you’ve had decimated been?

You may get by with that size plots. Deer still browse my corn plants at different stages, where they leave the sorghum alone. I guarantee about any size sorghum plot will make grain, but the grain may go fast.
 

Gator

5 year old buck +
For corn, soybeans and sunflower you could look for a JD 7000 planter. 4 row or so and your current tractor would likely pull it assuming fairly flat ground.
 

Dukslayr

5 year old buck +
For corn, soybeans and sunflower you could look for a JD 7000 planter. 4 row or so and your current tractor would likely pull it assuming fairly flat ground.
I think something along those lines would be my goal if I keep this current setup. I may have someone plant for me this first year to get things loosened up and give it a test run before adding a few more implements. I hear those JD 7000s are pretty bullet proof and easy to use.
 

Gator

5 year old buck +
I hear those JD 7000s are pretty bullet proof and easy to use.

Yep, they have a great reputation. I was running a 4 row JD 71 converted to notill until I sold it with the farm, it was great for corn and beans.
The drill would be more versatile but also way more expensive.
 

Dukslayr

5 year old buck +
Yep, they have a great reputation. I was running a 4 row JD 71 converted to notill until I sold it with the farm, it was great for corn and beans.
The drill would be more versatile but also way more expensive.
My real struggle here is whether to sell some of my current equipment (tractor included) and just upgrade to a larger tractor for the long haul and bite the bullet on a ag-type no-till drill that's capable of planting pretty much any seeds. It would be nice to be able to mow, spray, drill and walk away (or fertilize as needed) and then come back and spray again when needed. It just seems so much easier and effective in the long run that I'm trying to talk myself into it. If I do that I want to do it right with the right size drill and tractor . . . not spend 3-4k on a lighter weight drill that my current tractor can handle only to be disappointed with the results.
 

Dukslayr

5 year old buck +
I remember you from the old days..welcome.

Not a lot of answers. But I think it's hard to get a farmer to put in crops for you. Most of the true farmers around me are so busy with thier crop planting in the spring that they don't want to mess with plots.
Now if you have 2 4 acre plots getting it sprayed shouldn't be to hard. The sprayer outfits around me would do that. They don't like my plots because I have a bunch of small odd shaped stuff.

There are some guys that put food plots in around here but I don't know the charge per acre.

What you have would work but you might have to hire to have it disked the first time. Years of CRP ground won't turn easy with a small disk. But once it has been disked the first time, your stuff should work.

I bit the bullet years ago and bought a Great Plains 6 foot drill. It and or a land pride will plant corn. It just cracks some seed and skips once in while but these are plots not ag fields so who cares.

I don't fertilize often but I have just broadcast urea before a good rain and made out ok with corn. Lime will leach in from the surface. Guys with hay fields around me just broadcast on top and let the rain do its thing.

Spray, mow and throw will work with smaller seeds but I've had mixed results with beans and would try it with corn.

Bill, I forgot to ask you, what size tractor are you running?
 

Gator

5 year old buck +
My real struggle here is whether to sell some of my current equipment (tractor included) and just upgrade to a larger tractor for the long haul and bite the bullet on a ag-type no-till drill that's capable of planting pretty much any seeds. It would be nice to be able to mow, spray, drill and walk away (or fertilize as needed) and then come back and spray again when needed. It just seems so much easier and effective in the long run that I'm trying to talk myself into it. If I do that I want to do it right with the right size drill and tractor . . . not spend 3-4k on a lighter weight drill that my current tractor can handle only to be disappointed with the results.

Oh we can talk you into it. Big tractor and a true notil drill is the cat's meow. No way you would be disappointed in that setup. I agree I wouldn't keep current tractor and buy one of the smaller light weight drills, that's asking for disappointment. :)
 

SwampCat

5 year old buck +
I have a jd 790 - 28 hp - running five ft implements. I was planting 30 acres a year with it. Millet, wheat, brassicas, clover, sunflower, and beans. You do not need to row plant beans and sunflower for a good stand. No way would I spend the kind of money you are talking about unless I had it to burn or was going to be bush hogging 40 acres, too. Two years ago, I bought a 65 hp jd. I plant around 60 now. I kept the 790. I still use the 790 a lot. I dont have to have a highway to get it back in some of the remote plots. I use the little tractor for spraying, spreading fertilizer, planting in hard to get to areas, etc. The 65 hp gets used for disking, big bush hogging jobs, and pulling an 84” woods seeder. My opinion, I am planting food plots, not making a living from row crop. If there is a weed or a bald spot - it is not life altering. Everything about the bigger tractor costs more. Costs me $600 round trip just for them to pick it up and bring it back for service because I dont have any way to get it there. I pull my smaller tractor everywhere on a trailer. If I was planting only ten acres, and had to plant corn - I would look for a two row planter used or buy a one row Covington planter new. I could plant four acres in a couple hours with my one row covington planter I use in my garden.
 

swat1018

5 year old buck +
I have a jd 790 - 28 hp - running five ft implements. I was planting 30 acres a year with it. Millet, wheat, brassicas, clover, sunflower, and beans. You do not need to row plant beans and sunflower for a good stand. No way would I spend the kind of money you are talking about unless I had it to burn or was going to be bush hogging 40 acres, too. Two years ago, I bought a 65 hp jd. I plant around 60 now. I kept the 790. I still use the 790 a lot. I dont have to have a highway to get it back in some of the remote plots. I use the little tractor for spraying, spreading fertilizer, planting in hard to get to areas, etc. The 65 hp gets used for disking, big bush hogging jobs, and pulling an 84” woods seeder. My opinion, I am planting food plots, not making a living from row crop. If there is a weed or a bald spot - it is not life altering. Everything about the bigger tractor costs more. Costs me $600 round trip just for them to pick it up and bring it back for service because I dont have any way to get it there. I pull my smaller tractor everywhere on a trailer. If I was planting only ten acres, and had to plant corn - I would look for a two row planter used or buy a one row Covington planter new. I could plant four acres in a couple hours with my one row covington planter I use in my garden.

What does an 84" Woods seeder cost?
 

SwampCat

5 year old buck +
What does an 84" Woods seeder cost?
I think new, they can be had for $7500. We bought a one yr old used for $6000. It is not a no till drill - at least for pure ease of planting. But, it does a pretty decent job if the vegetation where you are planting isnt too thick. Our county rents no till drills - but they wouldnt rent one to me because of all the trees and roots in my food plots. Said it would tear up the drill. Woods seeder has never missed a beat. I plant an acre in 20 minutes - but it needs light to little vegetation on it. Does a pretty good job planting big and little seed at the same time. When I jumped from 30 to 60 acres - I had to do something different.
 

Tree Spud

5 year old buck +
I think new, they can be had for $7500. We bought a one yr old used for $6000. It is not a no till drill - at least for pure ease of planting. But, it does a pretty decent job if the vegetation where you are planting isnt too thick. Our county rents no till drills - but they wouldnt rent one to me because of all the trees and roots in my food plots. Said it would tear up the drill. Woods seeder has never missed a beat. I plant an acre in 20 minutes - but it needs light to little vegetation on it. Does a pretty good job planting big and little seed at the same time. When I jumped from 30 to 60 acres - I had to do something different.

The seeding is the easy part, knowing your land and soil condition is a whole different story.

The OP's land may require a chisel plow to break up compacted soil and allow for aeration proper drainage.

Having a well knowledged person with a farming background would be a good thing. Understanding soil chemistry, OM, & prep requirements, along with fertilizer & herbicide requirements, based on seed types could save some frustrations ... contact your local feed mill and get some assistance.
 
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