Skip-row planting is a method of planting large volume crops like corn or soybeans. The significance of skip-row planting is that helps manage weeds, insects and water usage, and gives farmers greater access to their fields. Better access to fields and control of crops generate higher-yielding crops, which translate to higher profits.
Access to Crops
Skipping every other row allows farmers to access crops without causing damage to growing crops. These barren rows act as tram lines and give equipment a place to travel without trampling the produce. Farming practices of the past caused farmers who needed to access their fields to simply drive over them, losing whatever part of the crop they drove on.
In the event a crop is suffering damage from insects, the farmer has these paths at his disposal. Insecticide can be applied to crops on both sides of the row without damage to any part of the crop. It also ensures more thorough coverage with the insecticide, which in turn stops the crop damage caused by the insects and improves yield
Tillers can be maneuvered along the empty rows to cultivate the soil and keep weeds to a minimum. Earlier practices involved letting weeds go and hoping for the best or risking the loss of part of the crop when equipment was used to deliver weed killer to the field. By making it easier to cultivate the field and remove a large percentage of the weeds, the crop plants do not have to compete for soil nutrients and water. The results are increased production.
In areas where water and rainfall are a concern, skip-row planting provides a benefit. As empty rows are not supporting plant life, their water content is held in reserve. Later in the growing period, such as in August when rainfall often drops off, the roots of the planted rows reach the soil of the empty rows and access the stored water.
Field studies conducted by the University of Nebraska on dryland corn crops showed an increase of 32 percent over traditional dryland corn crops. A second study involved two planted rows followed by two skipped rows. Results were 17 percent better than conventional practices. Bushel yields were 54 and 48 bushels, respectively, for the skip-row methods and 41 bushels for conventional planting.