This spring the first commercially produced Kinze model 4900 Multi-Hybrid planters will hit North American farm fields. The company announced last August that a limited number of planters with the ability to switch back and forth between two hybrid seed types would be available for the 2015 season. And a company rep says the firm is now taking orders for general production.
The 4900 Multi-Hybrid uses two individual meters on each row unit which draw seed from one of two separate seed tanks on the planter frame. Which meter spins, and therefore which hybrid gets seeded, depends on the system receiving instructions from a prescription map. When the planter moves across a map boundary that requires a change in seed, one meter stops and the other starts. The company claims that process happens with little or no disruption to seed spacing.
The idea behind the 4900 is that because soil and growing conditions vary across most fields, some hybrids do better in places than others. So the planter is able to switch back and forth between two, placing the type best suited for the field conditions where it has an agronomic advantage.
According to Kinze, the six drills that underwent field trials in 2014 performed well. “There were virtually no gaps or overlap when switching from one hybrid to the other,” the company said in a recent press release. In its promotion of the technology, Kinze reports those field trials showed an average yield improvement of more than nine bushels per acre.
Kinze uses Raven technology to control the dual metering system on the 4900, and the meters are driven by 24-volt electric motors, which allows for instant start-stop performance. Electric drive also allows for row-by-row control, enabling features like turn compensation.