Planting Down Force Study in Maize

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The objective of this study was to compare maize yields using automatic planting down force control (Precision Planting DeltaForce) against two fixed down force settings: heavy and light.

A Massey Ferguson 9108V planter with DeltaForce was used to plant plots across three different sites in Ukraine. Each plot was planted using the following down force settings:

  • Plot 1: the planter was configured manually to provide a light down force (40kg).
  • Plot 2: DeltaForce automatic down force system was used and automatically adjusted to provide the correct down force regardless of conditions.
  • Plot 3: the planter was configured to manually set heavy down force (400kg).









Restricted root development (left) from sidewall compaction from excessive down force. Adequate root development (right) when there is little to no sidewall compaction from  automatic down force control.








Inconsistent root and plant development was caused by erratic planting depths and row unit bounce, which is a result of too light down force.








Light down force yielded 159 bu/ac while automatic DeltaForce yielded 190 bu/ac and excessive  down force yielded 182 bu/ac.

Additional Observations:

Manually setting the planter with light down force reduced maize yield by an average of 16% across the three sites in Ukraine. This was mainly due to planter row units being allowed to bounce, resulting in inconsistent planting depth and impacted emergence. Excessive down force reduced maize yield by an average of 4% due to compaction caused by the planter gauge wheels, which restricts root development.

Recommendations & Equipment Solutions:

The data from Ukraine demonstrates that it is much more detrimental to have too little down force than too much. However, for optimum yields, automatic down force control with DeltaForce is best.


  • The maize down force study in Ukraine shows:
  • If the field is planted with light down force, a payback for an automatic down force system such as Delta Force is 30 ha.
  • If the field is planted with heavy down force, a payback for an automatic down force system such as Delta Force is 120 ha.
  • Assumption: price of maize ≥ $175/t

Study contact:

Mark Moore, Agricultural Development Manager for Europe and Middle East, AGCO Corporation. Connect with Mark on LINKEDIN.

If you enjoyed learning about this topic, check out more research studies by our Agronomy team by clicking here.  


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