Although SeedMaster’s Nova SmartCarts offer a typical bulk metering system using distribution towers to get product to drill openers, the brand’s president and founder Norbert Beaujot is a fan of Individual row metering when it comes to placing seed.
Individual row metering significantly reduces the variability in product flow that occurs with bulk metering systems when product is forced to divide in distribution towers mounted on the drill frame, according to Beaujot. “With individual row metering you know that if you put a seed into one end of a 50-foot hose, it’s going to come out of the other end,” he said. “Whereas on a bulk system you’re putting a bunch of product through a 2-/12 inch hose and you hope it divides reasonably at the end. There’s a big difference.”
For about the last six years the brand’s UltraPro on-frame meter has offered customers an individual row metering option. Now, an updated version of that system, the UltraPro II, will soon enter production for 2017 model year drills. The company claims that meter will offer all the same capabilities as the previous version but with a higher throughput and some updated features.
SeedMaster displayed a prototype mock up of the UltraPro II at Canada’s Farm Progress Show in Regina in June, but some final design being ironed out at that time. By early August, the new metering system was almost ready to begin production.
“We’re into the final development stages of getting this product into the market,” said SeedMaster engineer Daniel Michaluk, during Grainews’ visit to the company’s Regina factory in early August. “It’s gone through a few iterations already and we’re at a stage where we’re pretty happy with how it’s performing. We’ve done a lot of field testing and we’re doing some bench testing to finalize some of the roller shapes.”
The company wanted to improve upon the original UltraPro design and broaden its ability to handle other granular products, such as inoculants.
“Using that same (metering) concept for other products has been the objective,” confirmed Daniel. “It has many advantages over our last on-frame metering system. It’s a two-meter setup and both meters feed into a common venturi block.”
“We see this model being fairly attractive to the pulse grower, because we’re handling seed very, very gently and precisely and we’re able to put it down the row very easily,” said Cory Beaujot, marketing and communication manger. “And we’re able to meter granular inoculant into that same air stream in an uncomplicated way to ensure that same seed is getting treated appropriately.”
The first production model will get a 40 bushel small product tank and a 320 bushel main compartment. It will use interchangeable metering rollers designed for specific products. And product will flow through a larger venturi that is capable of handling more product without plugging.
“We went right back to the basics” added Norbert. “We had limitations before in the quantity of product we could put through the venturi system. So we designed it right from scratch so we could put the bigger peas and beans through it at high rates. We made the overall throat of everything at least 25 per cent larger than it was before.”
In addition, the UltraPro II will make things a little simpler for operators. It will be easier to change rollers, clean out product tanks and do catch tests.
Because it offers a high level of accuracy, the company envisions farmers using the UltraPro II on-frame meter to handle seed and allowing the Nova carts to handle fertilizer blends through their bulk metering systems as the best combination. The two can now be paired even more closely, because the UltraPro II’s design makes a better match with the overlap control system used by the Nova carts.
“With our original Valmar design, we were limited to what they were able to produce for us,” added Cory. “And that let us have up to five zones of overlap control on our frame-mounted tanks. This lets us have up to 10, the same as our Nova. It matches up perfectly.”
With the high cost of some seed Norbert sees the UltraPro II’s ability to meter individual rows as a key cost saver for farmers.
“I think what most farmers do is overcompensate on (seed) quantity to make sure it doesn’t impact their yields,” he says. “So they’re wasting money on seed. It’s a cost saving. It doesn’t take much to be throwing away $15 per acre on seed. Since we’ve had the UltraPro on the market, most of our growers have gone from the historic five pounds per acre to three. Three to 3-1/2 is the standard for our customers now.”
“One of the toughest things in the air drill or any seeding or fertilizer application business is the input companies will come up with a new product, and they test it in a plot seeder to make sure it actually works,” said Trent Meyer, the brand’s sales and marketing director. “But we don’t get a heads up that next spring there’s a new product that meters differently and it’s coming out, but we get the first call when it can’t be metered. By going to the individual row metering, we really eliminate all of that, because a lot of the problem around that comes in with caking and dust in a pressurized environment. And the venturi isn’t a pressurized environment. So it allows for a smooth metering flow. It’s friendly to a multitude of products.”
“We’ve taken the bulk metering system from a 25 per cent variance down to less than 10 (on the Nova carts). And now with the UltraPro II we’re down to less than two.”