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A one-pass, hybrid planter-drill born on the farm

Manitoba farmers debut their do-it-all planter designed for Western Canada

A look back at the origins of Western Canadian short-line ag equipment manufacturers would reveal one thing common to almost all of them: their founders were farmers making on-farm machine modifications or inventing new systems to achieve goals not possible with then-existing equipment. The new PPS single-pass planter on display at this year’s edition of Canada’s Farm Progress Show in Regina proves that on-the-farm evolution is still happening today.

Frank Prince, one member of the farming family that owns the Capricorn Bay Company based in Waskada, Manitoba, said their PPS planter was the result of years of evolution, resulting in a machine that met their own needs for a single-pass, multi-crop seeder. They wanted something that could handle everything from large-seed crops like corn to canola and wheat.

“We’ve grown corn and soybeans for 15 years, roughly, and we’ve done lots of multiple things to planters to try and put fertilizer on all in one pass, and it’s never worked,” he told Grainews. “There are lots of other issues with 15-inch spacing toolbars, for ease of working on, for residue, for rocks. So we just said why not put two rows on there and have a row for fertilizer.”

Aside from wanting a do-it-all toolbar that could better deal with those field-surface and maintenance concerns, there was also a need to reduce the downtime from refilling.

“Most planters have a 100-bushel seed tank on them,” he added. “That’s fine for corn, and in canola it’s awesome. But in soybeans it’s 80 to 100 acre fills. For our big fields, all you do is fill all day. So I said why not pull a cart that you can put on a sizeable amount of seed? We picked 400 (bushels) because you can do a half (section) with soybeans with that and make it commercialized for Western Canada.”

The example of display at Canada’s Farm Progress Show in Regina had twin-row openers set 20 inches apart, which placed seed in alternating seven and 13-inch row spacings.
photo: Scott Garvey

With Three PPS planters now working in fields, Prince said the family is ready to build and market it directly to farmers.

The toolbars are equipped with narrow, twin-row Harvest International row units, which are capable of working at field speeds up to 10 m.p.h. Sorensen Welding in Minnesota builds the toolbars for the company.

“We’re going to do 40, 60 or 80 (foot working widths),” he said. “We’re working on an 80 and you can have whatever row spacing you’d like on it. I think the most common spacing would be 15 inch. Guys will do corn soybean and canola with them.”

However, the planter on display in Regina was set up with twin-row openers spaced 20 inches apart that place seed in alternating seven and 13-inch row spacings. And Prince notes that configuration has worked well for their farming needs.

“This one’s twice as easy to work on as the other ones,” he said. “The one I designed has lots of room to work on it. It’s seven inches between two rows and then 13. If someone wants to do wheat or peas, I know it works.”

The drill is able to seed and place one or two fertilizer blends in the furrow. The front bar lays down the main fertilizer application, making it a true single-pass seeder.

“This one is set up for mid-row between the two seven-inch (spacings),” said Prince. “So it’s about 3.5 inches off (the seed). If you wanted 10-inch spacings and regular mid row, you can see it’s easy to slide them (openers) over.”

With the PPS planter, Prince thinks many farmers could do away with an air drill entirely and seed everything with this one machine.

“I see this two ways,” he explained. “You have your small farmers that seed 4,000 acres that, in Manitoba, are going to be one-quarter corn, beans, canola, wheat. You had to use a planter for corn. It made sense to use it for beans and canola because of the seed savings. Wheat was your trouble. You still had to have an air seeder for it. Now you can cut that out.

“If you have a big farmer who has 12,000 acres and 4,000 of it is canola, they can buy the machine just to do canola.”

Anyone interested in the planter can contact the Prince family farm by phone at 204-576-3500.

Future production PPS models will get heavier castor wheel assemblies and sturdier wing fold designs. The changes are based on the field performance of this and two other working prototypes.
photo: Scott Garvey

About the author

Machinery Editor

Scott Garvey is the machinery editor for Grainews.

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