For years now, Bourgault has maintained its mid-row banding concept offers growers the best and safest way to place fertilizer, even while most other manufacturers have long pushed the dual-knife opener, side banding concept. When Bourgault announced this spring it was introducing its own dual-knife opener option, the question had to be asked, has the brand changed its mind on which system is best?
“Our stand hasn’t changed at all as far as creating as good an environment as possible for seed emergence,” explains Bourgault’s marketing specialist, Rob Fagnou. “We’ve been getting some questions, of course, about dual knives. People were saying Bourgault has been marketing against dual knives for so long, how come we’re coming up with our own dual knife? What we saw is there definitely is a market out there for dual-knife systems, especially in regions where you have more moisture and more straw.
“We see an opportunity here providing farmers that do want to use a dual-knife system, but do see the benefits of the mid-row bander also. Now they can have both and have a safer environment for their seed, to separate seed and starter fertilizer.”
The addition of the new dual-knife PLD opener, one of three openers now available on Bourgault drills, is to offer farmers more options, not walk away from the mid-row banding concept. And the brand sees a benefit to the design when it comes to adding starter courses and preventing seed damage. The PLD’s design is essentially like other dual knives in the marketplace, which places fertilizer behind and off to the side of the seed row.
“Our agronomy team was noticing in the drier years, even a small amount of (phosphorus) with the seed can sometimes cause pruning,” Fagnou continues. “Tests have shown emergence took a bit of a hit even with small amounts of (phosphorus) with the seed. We saw if we could get some separation between the starter fertilizer and the seed that would help with emergence. On the air seeder side, we developed a triple shoot system. It’s called TriMax. It allows producers who get a dual-knife system to also get a triple shoot granular delivery system. You can have seed go down the seed knife all by itself, and you can go to higher rates of starter fertilizer and still maintain a bit of separation from the seed. Then, use the MRBs to put your full rate of nitrogen down. That provides a very good recipe for one-pass seeding.”
Adding the dual-knife option to its drills is just one of several major changes and upgrades Bourgault has introduced for the 2021 model year. Aside from the PLD opener, buyers can opt for the PLS or PLX openers, depending on which drill they buy.
The PLX is the newest version of the brand’s original 1:1 Paralink design.
“The Paralink Extreme (the PLX) is essentially a rebranding of our previous XTC opener,” says Fagnou.
The PLS is Bourgault’s new 2:1 single-knife opener.
“It’s been redesigned a bit to make the PLS and PLD interchangeable,” he adds. “You can add the knife onto a PLS to make it a PLD or take off a knife on the PLD to make it a PLS. But it’s still a 2:1 opener. It works exactly the same as the knife we came out with on the original 3310.”
To go along with the new openers, Bourgault has also completed redesigns of its drills.
“This is our third generation of Paralink hoe drills,” says Fagnou. “What we’ve done is formalized the fixed frame and the adjustable frame in two different series. We have the 3330SE, which is our fixed-frame series. And then we have two openers that are available on that frame (the PLX and the PLD).
“And going over to the 3335QDA, that’s our adjustable frame series, and there we have both of those openers available on it, plus the Paralink single, that’s the PLS. So that makes three openers available on it. It’s been redesigned a bit to make the PLS and PLD interchangeable.”
The brand is also giving the 3335QDA a new digital component with the addition of a smartphone-based app that allows for seeding depth changes on the go.
“One of the biggest options available on the 3335QDA is the AccuSet,” he adds. “That’s the one where farmers will be able to set their seeding depth from the cab of the tractor. We’ve actually created smart cylinders. There is a potentiometer in each cylinder. They’re essentially all networked together into an ECU. What a farmer will do is download an app onto his phone. And you can essentially adjust your frame height on the phone. It communicates with the ECU through Bluetooth.
“The app is set up like before where you were flipping shims in and out to adjust your seeding depth. Now you will have essentially a number of (virtual) shims on your app. You can essentially bump it up or down a shim.”
Drills equipped with the PLS opener will have a greater range of adjustment when mated with the Bluetooth-enabled Accuset app.
“The PLX and PLD, not quite as much,” explains Fagnou. “But it still gives them enough to hit the depths they want, at least within the field. They can go back to their openers to change the range of depth. If they go to a different crop or different environment, they can adjust that way. For the most part, they should be able to hit all the depths they need with the on-the-go app.”
Working width availability will remain unchanged from the previous model years, topping out at 86 feet.
“The most popular sizes are in that 66- to 76-foot range,” says Fagnou. “The only difference (for the 2021 model year) being with the PLD opener, given this is our first season with that opener, we’re going to have a limited amount of units going out with that opener. Because it’s a dual-knife system, we’re restricting it to 12-inch seeding widths only.”