Planting with efficiency

As input prices continue to rise, the focus of most farming practices has shifted toward efficiency. Making the most out of a crop with a proficient amount of input is important as farmers work hard to maintain their livelihoods.

For one sorghum producer in the Texas Panhandle, efficiency has become increasingly important over the years. James Born, a second generation farmer in Booker, Texas, only has a week to plant approximately 3,000 acres of sorghum.

Born's middle of three sons holding sorghum seed.

“I’m a big advocate of sorghum varieties that have a season length that matches a planting date in the last week of June,” Born said. “I’m a fanatic about a seven day planting window.”

Born explained that if the sorghum is put in the ground from June 21-28, the chances of raising an above average crop of 80-110 bushels is extremely likely. Due to the limited time allotted for him to accomplish this task, along with the fact the family of five tries to do most of the farm work themselves, Born decided to purchase a 90-foot planter. That’s right – 90 feet of planting power.

Born sowing sorghum seed with his 90-foot planter.

This is the second planting season he has used the machine. The 90-foot planter can cover 61 acres per hour, as opposed to many traditional planters that only average 20 acres per hour. In a 10-hour time frame, Born’s planter can deposit seed on 410 more acres than the typical planter.

This isn’t the only advantage this elongated piece of equipment brings to the field. Because the planter is two times longer than average, Born’s operation is substantially more fuel efficient as he is able to cover twice as much ground in one sweep. Born’s tractor is also equipped with a global positioning system that is accurate up to half an inch, allowing for added efficiency when planting.

Reaching hand into one of many cracks found in nearby field caused by this year's drought.

Due to the drought this year, Born’s planting practices changed slightly. He dusted in sorghum an inch deep instead of the typical inch and three quarters in hopes of subsequent rainfall, enabling moisture to reach the seed quicker. He also put out 30,000 seeds per acre, which is a little heavier than normal.

“Sorghum is an extremely tough crop,” Born said. “If we can get the top three to four inches wet, I can raise a crop.”