Transcript/Biography

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[Question:] "So, you were learning, probably, a lot of stuff from your grandfather."
     "I think of the planter – just how it's a big, massive machine. He had one of the first 12-row planters in the area. I remember telling somebody that, 'Grandpa got a 12-row planter.'
     "He was like, 'No, you didn't count the [seed] boxes [on each row] right.'
     "I would have just been in kindergarten at that time. And I'm like, 'No, he got a 12-row planter!'
     But there are so many parts to a planter. And, of all of the equipment a farm needs, that planter is the most important machine out there. It takes a planter to put the crop in. And if you don't have a crop, the whole year is gone."

[Clyde Ehlers:] "Agriculture keeps your money in circulation, you know. You don't go with that two-row until the day you die. You go to the four-row, six-row, 12-row."

[Chris:] "The original planters, the old plate type planters that – yep, it spins around and a seed drops in and drops out. And then it went to finger pickup planters, and each finger closed on a seed and carried it around a plate and dropped in the tube and went to the end of the furrow. And now the air [assisted planters]. There's ones that push the seed up against the plate, and then there's ones that suck the seed up against the plate. And then that plate goes around so that each hole has one seed on it. That is the key"

[Clyde:] "You know back then, why, if you had a double why it would be two stalks in one hill. Or maybe, the next one wouldn't pick up a kernel and you'd have a space. But for dry land [not irrigated farms], you was always maybe planting 16- or 18,000 kernels per acre. And that would be like a foot, foot and a half apart. Now days, why, you're planting 30-, 30,000-plus, on a lot of occasions. So, [the corn plants are] maybe four or five inches apart. You might have three plants per foot or four plants per foot. But they're more, they're pretty well precise. You still got doubles but you don't try to have doubles because it just robs, one robs from the other."

[Chris:] "The yield ramifications from an inaccurate field is detrimental. You're looking at 20-bushel difference just from a planter being worn out. Or where the, just say, the spacing is not correct, and you could look at a 20-bushel difference from the beginning of the year to the end of the year when you've got worn parts in your planter. At 20-bushels today, with $5.00 corn today, all of a sudden we're at $100 an acre."
     [Question:] "That's 20 bushels per acre."
     "Per acre, yes. And that's a bad example, you know. But in my planting on 1,000 acres of corn, you can tell the field that's [planted wrong]. The planter gets gone through [maintained] every year, very meticulously."

Chris & Clyde – Planting Tech Changes

   

Excerpts from Chris Ziegler’s Interview:

Farming Over Generations
Women on the Farm
His Girls & Farming
Urban Sprawl, with Clyde Ehlers
Raising Kids for Export
Using Fertilizers
Tractors (& Horses) Bog Down
Tillage Changes