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The Ideal Seeding System

Most of you have a wish list of what you’d like to see in an ideal seeding system. Here are what two producers described as improvements that would make good seeding equipment even better.

DWAYNE WOLF WAPELLA, SASK.

A seeding system with individual shut offs on each shank leads the list of what Dwayne Wolf would like to see in an ideal seeding system. On his 10,000-acre southeast Saskatchewan farm, he operates an 84-foot-wide Seed Hawk drill with sectional shut offs. But if the technology was there (and he believes it isn’t far away), the ideal drill would have individual shank shut offs to further improve seeding efficiency.

“Individual shut offs would totally eliminate overlap or double application of seed and fertilizer,” says Wolf, who produces winter wheat, canola, barley, spring wheat — and this year soybeans — on his Wapella-area farm.

The sectional shut-off feature, called SCT or Section Control Technology, on the Seed Hawk drill was a huge improvement for Wolf. In fact, it has made his farm a little smaller. The actual seeded area is now closer to 9,200 acres rather than a full 10,000 acres.

“I estimate with the sectional shut it has reduced inputs by five to eight per cent over the whole farm,” says Wolf. On one of his worst half-section fields, which is dotted with pot holes, the count on seeded acres last year with a 60-foot wide drill was 236 acres, compared to this year with the 84 foot drill, with 10.5 foot sectional shutoffs, and the acre count on the same field was down to 196 acres.

“The more I can reduce overlap, the better it is,” says Wolf. “Some people say in areas where you double seed you get higher yields, but that hasn’t been my experience. On those strips usually the crop lays down, it can be hard to swath, often the yield is lower, and it is hard to seed through those areas the next year. I like to follow a proper seeding rate and apply an optimum fertilizer rate to meet plant nutrient requirements so any double seeding is too much.”

The 84-foot SCT Seed Hawk replaced a 60-foot Seed Hawk and a 40-foot Seed Master drill on Wolf’s farm in 2009. The new Seed Hawk has eight sections that automatically shut off, independently of each other. He uses both GPS and autosteer to accurately guide the seeding operation.

“It is all computer controlled with a manual override, if you need it,” he says. “With the GPS and auto-

steer, the sectional shut off isn’t a critical feature if you have a nice rectangular half-mile or mile-long field and it’s just straight seeding. Where it is a benefit is where you have to farm around potholes or a slough, or if you have an odd shaped field and you end up with a piece the shape of a bottle neck.”

Wolf says in seeding a bottle neck that gets narrower, the drill automatically shuts off each section as it reaches each 10.5 feet of overlap. At the end of the bottle neck, he can turn sharply and manually lift the drill, so as it turns (swings back) over seeded area it isn’t dragging the shanks through the soil.

Wolf says in the first season of operation he hasn’t had to make any modifications to the drill. He did remove the trash deflectors “as they didn’t seem to be doing the job” and he may have to increase tractor horsepower. He is operating the drill with a John Deere 9620 with 525 horsepower, but may have to look at going a bit bigger.

GUY WALKER FAIRVIEW, ALTA.

Getting seed placed where and how he wants it is the first priority for Guy Walker, who farms in Alberta’s Peace River region. “The number one feature for me is to have a wide ribbon of seed — high seed bed utilization (SBU),” says Walker, who crops about 540 acres of canola and barley most years, and plans to add peas in 2010. “I like a boot that spreads the seed over about five or six inches — something that has about 55 per cent or higher SBU.”

He figures the plant grows better if they germinate over a wider area, rather than being crammed into a narrow one or two inch band. Secondly, he wants a wide band that will support a swath.

Walker, who farms near Fairvew, seeds with a 28-foot Concord air seeding system. Shanks are on 12-inch spacing with edge-on adaptors running 12 inch sweeps, and furrow closers.

With the wide SBU he can also place all fertilizer with the seed with little risk of seedling injury. Most years he can put 210 to 220 pounds of product in each band per acre. Depending on the crop, the fertilizer blend includes 65 to 70 pounds of nitrogen, 25 pounds of phosphorus and 13 pounds of potash, with the seed.

Aside from the wide SBU, the second most important feature for Walker is a seeding system with a narrow front to back ratio

About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart

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

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