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Variable Rate planting based on organic matter and soil moisture in corn 

Research question: How do Variable Rate planting practices in planted population or planting depth influence corn yield?

(A trial on cover crop banding for corn planting is also taking place in the northern portion of this plot) .

Trial location: Field Rüteli (3.4 ha)

Study Design

Trial setup: Strip trial
Number of trial strips: 6 trial strips of 9 m each
Row spacing: 75 cm
Variety: KWS Stabil


The Precision Planting planter has a SmartFirmer sensor that measures organic matter content and soil moisture as it passes through the field in the furrow. With higher organic matter in the soil, the nutrient holding capacity and water holding capacity of the soil is greater. Prior to planting, the population was defined on the planter terminal for the different levels of organic matter. If the content was higher, a higher population was defined. The planter then controlled automatically during planting based on the measured organic matter content values. In another trial strip, the planting depth was automatically adjusted within a predefined range based on the soil moisture values from the soil sensors.

The following treatments were compared::

  • Standard planting (planted population 90 KS/ha, planting depth 5.0 cm) 

  • Variable Rate Population based on organic matter content (planted population 70, 80, 85, 90 KS/ha)

  • Variable Rate Planting Depth based on soil moisture (planting depth 3.8, 5.1, 6.4 cm)

Applied technologies

  • Automatic guidance system with RTK accuracy of ± 2cm

  • Precision Planting planter

  • Planter, fertilizer spreader, and sprayer with Section Control


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

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