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Seed Placement Tops On Seeder Wish-List

Getting seed placed where they want it is the top priority among western Canadian farmers, contacted for this Farmer Panel, when asked what is the most important feature to them in any seeding system.

It doesn’t matter if they are seeding everything very shallow — as little as one-third inch deep — or down to 1.5 inches, the important thing is to have a system that delivers reliable and consistent results, say this month’s panel members.

And to achieve that all three farmers use different seeding systems for the job, ranging from a John Deere 1895 disc drill, to a SeedHawk, to a Bourgault 5710 air hoe drill.

And the “wish list” among these farmers is pretty short too. All are quite happy with the seeding systems they have. In seeding under wet conditions one suggested better floatation tires and mud scrapers would be a nice feature, while another says his next seeding system will have sectional shut offs now that the technology has been fine tuned.

Here is what this issue’s Farmer Panel had to say about seeding systems:


To get the most even germination, seed has to be placed uniformly regardless of field contours. And to achieve that Kerry Cadieux of Letellier, Man., likes the performance of the John Deere 1895 zero till disc drill he’s used since 2004.

“We’ve used and looked at other systems but I wouldn’t use anything else,” says Cadieux, who along with family members crops about 4,000 acres in the Red River Valley south of Winnipeg. “What we like about this system is that every disc is independent, so whether you are going through a low spot over over a hill each one places the seed at the same depth.

“We’ve had other systems over the years and when you went over a hill or through a ditch the seed in the middle might be at one inch, but then at one side it would be one-and-a-half inches and on the other side three inches, and then your germination is all over the place.”

Cadieux says their 40 foot John Deere 1895 is very consistent with seeding depth. Each disc is followed by a packer wheel, with a low pressure closing wheel at the back of the drill.

He does say it has been a bit of challenge using the drill under wet seeding conditions in recent years. The packer wheels can gum up in wet conditions and sometimes pick up seed. John Deere has now developed a scraper system for the wheels, but that wasn’t available when they bought their equipment.

To reduce the risk of muddy packer wheels and to help dry the soil, they now, under wet conditions, lightly harrow the field just before seeding. They just recently bought a new Elmer’s Manufacturing Super 7 tine harrow.

“We go over the field with the harrow, ever so lightly, maybe half a day before we seed,” says Cadieux. “That light harrow is just enough to dry out the top half inch which forms a light crust. The ground is still very wet underneath, but it is just dry enough to carry the packer wheels without them gumming up.”

They aim to seed canola at either three-quarters to one-inch depth just so it is through that drier crust, and cereals usually go in at one-and- a-half inches deep. The three-run John Deere drill places seed and blended granular fertilizer in the same row, while the third run places anhydrous ammonia about five inches to side and two to three inches below the seed row.

If Cadieux had one item on his wish list, it would be some improvement to prevent packer wheels from mudding up “either a different type of packer or any other idea someone has for seeding in wet conditions,” he says.


Geoff Hewson, who along with several family members, crops

about 7,800 acres near Langbank, Sask., has been a firm believer in the classic Seed Hawk seeding system for accurate seed placement since 1999.

Hewson currently uses two Seed Hawk drills to get the canola, spring wheat, winter wheat and oat crop seeded on the farm, southeast of Regina near the Manitoba border.

“Seeding accuracy and consistency is important on our farm where some of the land is quite rolling,” says Hewson. “We need a system that places seeds at the same depth regardless of the terrain, and with the Seed Hawk each shank operates separately at a consistent depth.”

Hewson sets the Seed Hawk single sideband seed knife, to place both canola and wheat seed at one-third to one-half-an-inch depth, while up to 100 pounds of actual nitrogen fertilizer is placed about three-quarters of an inch deeper and one-and-a-half to the side of the single seed row.

Hewson has a 44-foot Seed Hawk drill on 12-inch row spacing with a 357 bushel seed tank, and a 60 foot Seed Hawk drill on 12-inch spacing with an 800 bushel tank.

“Going to that larger tank last year saved us four or five seeding days, and probably made the difference of whether we got the crop seeded or not,” says Hewson. “Even while putting down 100 pounds of fertilizer, you can fill that tank and seed almost a full

quarter section before refilling, so it saves a lot of time.”

Hewson finished seeding on the Friday of the May long weekend and just before a four inch rain. He figures if they hadn’t saved those few days, the rain would have delayed seeding until sometime in June.

While he is happy with the Seed Hawk system, he says the next Seed Hawk will include features such as sectional shut off and integrated variable rate technology. He likes the idea of sectional shut off, but waited for the technology to be proven before using on his farm.


Kevin Serfas pays attention to get all seeding equipment level at the start of the seeding season, and finds they maintain good accuracy until all crop is in the ground.

Serfas, who along with his brother Mark and their dad Herb operate Serfas Farms Ltd. at Turin, just north of Lethbridge, favors the Bourgault 5710 seeding system. He uses seven of the machines to get about 35,000 acres of canola, wheat and barley seeded each year.

“The most important feature to us is depth control and seed placement,” says Serfas. “And we have tried several systems over the years, and found the Bourgault gives us uniform seeding depth, is easy to level and produces consistency.

“I think it is important that we spend a bit of time making sure they are level in the field, and once they are they hold that seeding consistency during the year.”

Serfas Farms runs three 59-foot and four 64-foot Bourgault 5710 air hoe drills all with 550 bushel tanks. They aim to seed canola at about a half-inch depth, while the cereals are seeded one to one-and-a-half inches deep. “The depth will vary slightly because we want to seed into moisture, but you don’t want to bury them either,” he says.

Serfas says he really doesn’t have a wish list for finding an “improved” seeding system. “At one time we were running three different seeding systems in the same field and it was one of my goals to one day have the same system and all the same color,” he says. “And now we do. We could have gone with a number of different systems, really I am very happy with the Bourgault system. It does a good job so I really can’t say there is something better out there I wished we had.”

LeeHartisafieldeditorforGrainewsat Calgary.Contacthimat403-592-1964orby emailat [email protected]


Going to that larger tank last year saved us four or five seeding days, and probably made the difference of whether we got the crop seeded or not

About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.



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