Edisto showcases software, peanuts, forage

Imagine mowing the lawn, washing the dishes or walking Fido 12 times faster than you used to. Researchers at Clemson University’s Edisto Research and Education Center know exactly what that feels like.

Visitors to Edisto’s Fall Field Day Sept. 4 were shown a revolutionary multi-boom crop sprayer that can deliver 12 treatments in one pass-through.

The low-level flyby of sorts, pulled by a tractor, uses software developed by Research Agricultural Engineer Ahmad Khalilian and Agriculture and Biosystems Engineer Young Jo Han.

The computer-controlled system can spray right and left, and existing satellite-positioning technology enables the tractor to know exactly where in the field the rig is. Once all the parameters are entered into the computer, the system will drive itself until it finishes the job.

But what really sets the system apart, said Entomologist Jay Chapin, is the ability of the apparatus to turn itself on and off and apply multiple treatments. Chapin uses the system for pesticides or other chemical treatments.

It means a procedure that used to take six hours to deliver 24 treatments now takes just 30 minutes, saving valuable time in the field and fuel in the tractor.

“It’s a lot more productive because of that software,” Chapin said.

More than 200 visitors to the annual field day toured fields of Edisto’s extensive peanut varieties. Chapin gave updates on herbicide efficiency, disease management, digging date by variety and response to potash levels.

On the beef cattle tour, Kevin Campbell, a livestock and forages agent with the Greenwood County Extension office, discussed the option of using perennial peanut as an alternative to alfalfa.

Perennial peanut — not to be confused with peanut vines — is a tropical legume that can be grazed or used as feed. It is persistent, disease resistant, drought tolerant and, as such, is well-adapted to dry, sandy soils.

On the downside, perennial peanut has higher start-up costs than alfalfa, but that outlay can be recouped over the life cycle of the crop, Campbell said.

For example, alfalfa costs about $200 an acre to prepare the land and seed for about a five-year stand. Perennial peanut, however, will cost twice that number per acre, but provide a return for 30 to 40 years.

Campbell said he knows of stands in the state that were planted in the early 1970s “and they’re still going strong,” he said.

TAGS: Peanuts
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