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Influence of planting depth, down force and liquid starter fertilizer on sugar beet yield


Research question:  What influence do different planter settings for planting depth and down force as well as liquid starter fertilizer have on sugar beet yield?

Trial location: Field Grosswies (2.8 ha)



Study Design

Trial setup: Strip trial
Total width: 120 m
Number of trial strips: 12
Trial strip width: 6 m
Treatments: 6
Repetitions: 2 
Row spacing: 50 cm
Planted population: 100,000 seeds/ha
Variety: KWS Smart Belamia

Post-emergence crop management is performed identically on all trial strips and can be tracked in the field calendar below.


Down Force automatic vs. fixed

In addition to planting depth and closing pressure, the Precision Planting planter also adjusts the down force. The machine automatically adjusts the applied down force to the existing soil conditions so that the selected down force target is always maintained even with uneven soil and varying compaction. This results in a constant seed placement depth even on heterogeneous soils. This is central to uniform emergence and thus uniform crop development.

We investigate the effects of the following down force settings:

  • Automatic down force: Automatic adjustment based on soil properties measured in real time

  • Conventional down force: Fixed, constant down force without adjustment to soil properties

Planting Depth standard vs. slightly deeper  

Planting depth is a compromise between sufficiently deep placement to avoid desiccation and sufficiently shallow placement for rapid field emergence. Seed that is placed too shallow cannot develop enough roots to ensure optimal water and nutrient uptake and to maintain the weight of the mature plant.

We investigate the effects of the following planting depths:

  • 2.5 cm (standard)

  • 3.8 cm (slightly deeper)

Liquid starter fertilizer application with Hasorgan Profil vs. no liquid starter fertilizer  

Liquid fertilizer can be applied very precisely, both spatially and in terms of concentration. With the Precision Planting planter, liquid fertilizer can also be applied directly as in-furrow fertilizer. With Hasorgan Profi we use a product that is made from algae. It is therefore a renewable raw material and may also be used in organic farming. Plant development and yield after liquid fertilizer application are compared with control strips without liquid fertilization. 

Applied technologies

  • Automatic guidance system with RTK accuracy of ± 2 cm

  • Precision Planting planter with sensor-based automatic down force control, pneumatic closing pressure system and in-furrow liquid fertilizer application.

  • Planter, fertilizer spreader, and sprayer with Section Control

Crop care:    A single application of Conviso herbicide is made with the band sprayer, which reduces the number of field passes. A single application of fungicide against leaf spot disease and powdery mildew is made as needed.


Dr. Nils Zehner
AGCO International GmbH
+41 79 538 79 81

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