SDSU Creates World’s First Multi-Hybrid Planter

Jamie JohansenAgribusiness, Dupont Pioneer, Education, Equipment, Raven, seed

SDSUA collaborative effort at South Dakota State University’s (SDSU) College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences has produced the world’s first multi-hybrid planter to create advancement in precision agriculture.

When SDSU plant scientist, Peter Sexton, needed a new row-crop planter at the Agricultural
Experiment Station’s Southeast Research Farm near Beresford, he looked to the future – in terms of equipment and networking.

With support from the Southeast Experiment Farm board, the nonprofit growers’ corporation that owns the farm, Sexton and SDSU forged a partnership with Sioux Falls-based Raven Industries and DuPont Pioneer. Their collaboration resulted in a twin-row planter with the ability to automatically switch hybrids while seeding on-the-go based on GPS mapping of the field.

Through an agreement signed in the summer of 2012, Raven Industries donated the engineering time to customize the planter. Sexton described what he wanted the planter to do and then Raven engineers developed those capabilities.

“This is a great model of industry partnering with public entities,” says Raven Industries Product Manager Douglas Prairie, citing his company’s emphasis on innovation. Sexton gave Raven engineers feedback as they developed the hydraulic drives, control system and software to modify the Monosem planter.

In addition to the fields planted at the Southeast Research Farm near Beresford, test plots were sown on private farms near Parkston, Tripp, Lennox and Baltic. To select the appropriate corn and soybean hybrids for the fields that SDSU mapped, Sexton turned to DuPont Pioneer.

Pioneer agreed to supply the seed and made recommendations, according to DuPont Pioneer agronomy research manager Barry Anderson. The data from this research will “give us a chance to understand how our products perform,” he explains. “It’s nice when we as a seed industry can team up not only with the university but also with manufacturers. That doesn’t always happen.”

The information gleaned from field trials planted using this first-of-its-kind multi-hybrid planter will allow SDSU researchers to produce agronomic data that will help farmers decide what to plant, where to plant it, and how much to plant, as well as when and how much pesticide and fertilizer to apply, according to Sexton.

SDSU will also be able to provide agronomic and financial reasons why farmers should consider using a multi-hybrid approach to planting, according to Prairie. Eventually, Raven Industries seeks to play a role in “designing a true multi-hybrid planter.”

To view this and other articles found in the SDSU Agricultural Experiment Station 2013 Annual Report, visit