As I continue to log hours of travel time on the road and in the air attending machinery-related events across Canada, the U.S. and on other continents, I’ve come to the conclusion that Murphy got it right when the famous “Murphy’s Law” was discovered. On the off chance you don’t know what that refers to, here is the official definition: whatever can go wrong will at the worst possible moment.
That is something farmers are well acquainted with, particularly when it comes to machinery breakdowns in the field during seeding and harvest.
But for someone like me who travels a lot, it means your flight will likely be delayed because of a storm on the east coast of the U.S. which has impacted air travel everywhere from Vancouver to Dallas, even though you are looking out the airport window at a bright sunny day. Or it will be something like the last leg of a trip gets delayed because the pilot had to abort the takeoff at the last second and return us to the terminal. That happened last summer in Australia. But kudos to Quantas Airlines for getting us back on another plane and in the air in record time.
One of my first trips to Iowa landed me there just a few hours ahead of a tornado. The hotel staff called all the guests in their rooms and instructed them to come to a “safe” area near the lobby to wait out the blow.
Then there are road trips. This week after unseasonably mild weather all through March, an April snow and ice storm made highway travel a little dicy on the trip to Steinbach, Manitoba, for the production launch of Clean Seed Capital Group’s CX6 drill.
The launch event was planned to be primarily an outdoor event in front of the WS Steel manufacturing plant where the CX6s are being built. Only an hour or so before the proceedings were set to begin, the snow started falling and the temperature was sinking like a rock. Fortunately, the speeches were planned to take place inside a large, heated tent.
Despite the rough conditions, turnout was high. It seems there is a lot of interest from farmers in the kind of technology the CX6 brings to the market. For those that saw the prototype machine at any of several farm shows over the past couple of years, the production model will look a little different. But according to Clean Seed’s Noel Lempriere, the technology inside remains essentially unchanged.
One major difference is how the row openers mount on the toolbar. The prototype had row units designed very much like a planter, where a small hopper was mounted on the opener and followed it over the field countours. The new design doesn’t have the hopper mounted directly on the row unit, so it won’t get bounced around, which should improve durability according to Lemprierre.
The first production CX6 displayed at the event was the culimantion of the work of two generations of the Lempriere family, and according to 94-year-old Noel Sr.—who is the engineer behind the original concept—it was a very long time in development. So the launch was understandably a bit emotional for the family.
The first models built this year will be bought by the Rocky Mountain dealership group, who are the exclusive retailer. They have a number of field trials planned across the prairie this summer to show farmers what the CX6 is capable of. One of those trials will be held at the Ag in Motion farm show near Saskatoon in July.
MSRP for the CX6 hasn’t been exactly set yet, but according to Jim Wood, VP of agriculture at Rocky, it will be somewhere north of $600,000 for a 60-foot model. Both Rocky and Clean Seed management are confident that when farmers see what this drill offers, such as the ability to deliver up to six products individually controlled to each opener, there will be ample demand for it.
And Noel Sr. told me that he has just applied for additional patents for new features future models of the drill will eventually get. What they are, exactly, is still a secret, he said.