Planting system

Planting system: how to choose the right one?

The planting system adopted in crop implantation is one of the most critical aspects of agricultural production strategies. In South Africa, several approaches are practised, and each is more suitable for specific situations.

It is essential to choose the best one, based on the knowledge of the different system’s characteristics, the culture type, and the farm’s features. But, after all, what do you need to know?

Continue reading and find out how to choose the ideal planting system.

What is a planting system?

Among the main phases of the crop’s production process are soil preparation and sowing. In these early stages, where the crop has not been sown, preparing the way for it to develop in all its fullness is essential.

We can call the manner these two agricultural operations are carried out a planting system, in which the farmer will work on their crop. Some procedures have been developed to offer the best situation, considering the crop’s subsequent stages until harvest.

As one can observe, farmers have different models, mainly because of the advantages that each one offers. Although each system may be more suitable for a given crop, there is generally no specificity between a given planting system and a specific crop.

The knowledge of the various planting methods adopted in South Africa and the variables that characterize each one is indispensable to make the best decision for the crop. Next, Find out why it is vital to choose a sound planting system.

What is the importance of choosing a good system?

Some crops are susceptible to the way they are planted; their response varies with the planting system adopted. Knowing the particularities of the crop and how it responds to each soil preparation and sowing technique is indispensable to provide the best outcome and achieve the expected results.

Nevertheless, the farmer’s option must meet the main cultivation variables for the crop that they will plant. The main aspects to be considered can be listed as follows:

  • need for loose and well-aerated soil;
  • seed depth;
  • preference for surface biomass (soil straw);
  • sowing rate;
  • terrain’s moisture levels;
  • adoption of crop rotation.

It is essential to consider that, whatever the option, there are cultural treatments after planting (straw management, cover fertilization, post-planting correction) that may or may not be necessary. The demands will depend on the chosen system, as well as the implanted culture.

What are the six main planting systems?

Due to the variety of ways to handle soil tillage and sowing (in addition to the following operations), there are some different planting methods. Read about the six most common systems used in South Africa.

1. Conventional planting

The conventional planting system consists of traditional practices of soil preparation and sowing in the prepared bed. Thus, it consists of ploughing (for tipping ), harrows (one or two, for solid loosening) and sowing properly.

Conventional planting, as in other systems, can consider the liming operation immediately before soil preparation, as well as fertilization before and after planting. Likewise, cultivation operations may be necessary one or more times.

2. No-till

No-tillage, widely used in South Africa, does not require revolving soil operations (ploughing and harrows), but crop rotation is considered. The straw of the previous cultivation is maintained, and special machines cut the straw and deposit seeds and fertilizer along the groove.

This ensures vegetation cover on the soil, with some advantages: it keeps the soil at mild temperatures, more humid and “dampens” much of the spontaneous vegetation (weeds) that would develop between the crop lines. In addition, organic matter incorporates nutrients into the soil when decomposing.

3. Minimum cultivation

Minimal cultivation is an intermediate system between the conventional and no-tillage systems. Essentially, it consists of reducing soil tillage to minimize revolving and avoid compaction from agricultural machinery transit.

In some crops, especially those that remain in the same place as sugarcane for several years, the frequent use of the subsoiler may be indispensable. Likewise, cultivation operations may be necessary one or more times.

4. Aerial planting

Aerial planting, widely used in pastures formation, is carried out with an aeroplane and presents high operational performance. It requires, however, the use of high physical and genetic purity seeds and that they are plant species that present good results from surface plantations.

When associated with oversowing (dropping seed on crop remains), it is possible to achieve a greater use with seed consumption reduction. The production of forage (clover, ryegrass) for cattle, for example, has good results with this system.

5. Tossing planting

The tossed planting system is widely used for the formation of pastures. It is the most commonly used by South-African cattlemen for this purpose.

Usually, tossed planting is done with a limestone or fertilizer spreader. Thus, the two operations are carried out at the same time, reducing operational costs.

6. In-line planting

The in-line planting system is the one that allows the best regulation of the sowing rate. Using the variable amounts of seeds per linear meter and spacing between the lines obtains the most accurate performance.

The seeds are evenly placed at a certain depth. The spacing between the lines can be aligned with paired strings (twin strings), allowing a more extensive roster. In this case, the spacing between two strings is reduced while increasing the distance between the pairs of strings.

How to choose the best system?

To select the best planting system, first, it is necessary to check which ones can be used for the crop to be implanted. Then, the farm’s circumstances are evaluated, considering the available resources and what best suits the farmer’s reality.

It is necessary to consider the mentioned aspects of importance (sowing rate, seed depth, etc.) in this evaluation. It is also essential to consider the operations that must be carried out with agricultural machinery suitable for each activity and opt for quality and well-established technology and equipment in the market.

Finally, pay special attention to the technical knowledge necessary to implement the chosen system. You cannot experiment with a moment as important as crop implantation.

As seen above, choosing the best planting system requires, first, knowledge of each possibility. Next, it is necessary to find which one is best suited to your crop, mainly depending on the farm’s characteristics.

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