24 Dec, 2013
Canola Seed Rate Trial


There are numerous influences in determining an appropriate canola seed rate for a given field.  The purpose of study was to determine how various canola plant populations affect final yield when using as SeedMaster seeding system.


SeedMaster operates a 2000 acre research and development farm located in SE Saskatchewan. The soil is classified as a Black Chernozem, clay loam.  Topography is categorized as gently to moderately rolling.  Organic matter ranges from 3.8 to 4.9% with a ph of 6.9 – 8.0 on average.




The SeedMaster Research Farm has access to a 100-15-SXX-20 with a tow behind 820bu NovaXP.  It is a 100’ wide toolbar with 80 openers on 15” row spacing.  The toolbar houses a front mount 20bu on-frame tank that features individual row metering (IRM) and UltraPro metering.  The 820bu NovaXP is a tow behind air seeder comprising of 4 compartments.  3 – 260bu tanks and 1 – 40bu tank. A John Deere 9630 tractor is used to pull the implement.  A Viper Pro monitor controls drill/tank functions plus tractor guidance at RTK correction level.

Pioneer® brand 45S54 seed was used for the trial. The TKW of the seed was 6.8 grams.  The canola seed was directed to the seed opener at the SeedMaster factory setting of 0.75” below the packed soil surface.  Canola seed was metered from the on-board 20bu tank through the UltraPro meters.  Fan RPM was set to supply 9 ounces/sq. inch of air pressure for the duration of the trial as per SeedMaster Operators Manual.

All fertilizer requirements were directed, at the time of seeding, to the fertilizer knife at the SeedMaster factory setting of 0.75” below and 1.5” to the side of the seed.  Granular fertilizer at a constant rate of 290 lbs/acre (100-33-0-15) was applied.  Two of the 260 bushel NovaXP tanks were applying Urea (46-0-0) at a rate of 95 lbs/acre and one 260 bushel NovaXP tank was applying MicroEssentials® S15™ (13-33-0-15) at a rate of 100 lbs/acre.

A VR seed rate map was created by Decisive Farming.  The canola seed rate varied from 1.5 lbs/acre to 4.5 lbs/acre at 0.5 lb increments across the entire 145 acre field.  Each seed rate had a minimum of one 200’ x 2640’ plot size.  Due to the size of the trial field, some seed rates had multiple plots. The VR map was easily loaded into the Viper Pro monitor and all rate changes occurred automatically with no operator input.  Below is the VR seed rate map for the trial field. Due to location of the 2.0 lbs/acre plot being too close to infield obstacles, yield data from that rate was abandoned.



The field was seeded on May 19th 2013 at an approximate speed of 4.5 mph.  Although the SeedMaster recommended travel speed is 5 mph, the decision was made to travel slightly slower because of the following reasons:

  1. By May 19th 2013, seeding was approximately 80% complete on the research farm
  2. Numerous sources of information on the subject of high canola seeding speed.
  3. With a 100’ wide tool bar traveling at 4.5 mph, a rate of 55 acres seeded per hour is maintained vs. 60 acres seeded per hour at 5 mph.  This disregards headland turns, fill times, etc.  (advantage of running a 100’ wide toolbar is timeliness of seeding operation)

The entire trial field received identical herbicide and fungicide in crop treatments through the growing season.  On June 25th 2013, plant counts were conducted in each seed rate plot.  Below is the data that was collected.



Overall seed survival average was 65.68%. Interesting to note that seed survival may be slightly higher overall at the lower seed rates.  This information will be compared with future years to see if a trend develops. 

One of my concerns going into the trial was how we were going to make timely decisions on product applications and swathing.  There is ample information regarding the effects on maturity caused by too low of seed rate. ("Plant population," 2013)  Below is a picture taken on July 24, 2013.



Below is a picture of Norbert Beaujot on Aug 8, 2013 looking out towards the various seed rates as the field finishes flowering.  It was strongly believed that the lower plant populations would bloom for an extended length of time.  This was not the case.  All plant populations appeared to finish blooming at approximately the same time.



Swathing commenced on Sept 1, 2013.  Any differences in maturity at that time appeared to correlate with topography rather than plant population. Below is a picture taken while cutting the outside round of the field.



The plot area of the field was squared off to exclude the headland areas and approximately 30’ into the AB passes.  4 full 30’ swather header widths were cut into each seed rate. A buffer between the full widths was left and swathed later in the day.

It was noticed that the 1.6 plants/sq.ft plot had to be cut as low to the ground as possible to avoid missing any of the pods.  In my opinion, this plant population was more difficult to swath than the higher plant populations.  Below is a picture of the 1.6 plants/sq.ft stubble showing the very low branching that occurred.



The plots were harvested on Sept.14th, 2013.  A constant combine speed of 2 mph was chosen for all plots.  Two passes of a particular plant population were combined and then dumped into the grain cart for weighing.  This was done twice for each seed rate.  After each combine dump, the grain cart was emptied.  Below is a picture of Rochelle Beaujot collecting a sample to be tested later for moisture content.



Below are the yield results from the plots.  The 2.3 plants/sq.ft was abandoned due to poor location within field.



It can be seen from the above chart that the yield data was relatively consistent between all seed rates.  Below is the moisture data from the samples collected.



It can be seen from the above chart that the moisture appears to trend higher as the seed rate is lowered.


Future Considerations:

The results of this trail are from one year only.  The SeedMaster Research farm will replicate this trial in the 2014 growing season.

It is my desire to encourage other members of the Master Seeders Network to replicate this trial using a seed variety with a TKW < 5.0 on their farms over a broad range of geography in 2014.  The Master Seeders Network is currently made up of 35 members (24 of whom were active in 2013). 

SeedMaster Research farm will continue to target 4.5 plants/sq.ft on non-canola seed rate trial acres next year.

These results will vary in subsequent trials depending on environmental conditions present throughout the growing season.

This trial needs be repeated in time and multiple locations across a broad geography.



Special thanks to the following:

-       Decisive Farming https://www.decisivefarming.com/

-       Plant population. (2013, Sept 24). Retrieved from http://www.canolacouncil.org/canola-encyclopedia/crop-establishment/plant-population/


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