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Talking trash about seeding equipment

SeedMaster, a brand that often gives farmers a glimpse of its new technologies, chose to show a mockup of its one-row drill concept at Canada’s Farm Progress Show in Regina in June.

“It’s something that we’re working with, testing a few ideas on how to better improve residue flow through a machine, but also how to get all the openers on one row,” said Greg Vennard, engineering manager at SeedMaster, when he spoke with Grainews at the company’s display. “Typically we build all our drills with the openers on three rows, which makes the frame of the drill quite deep. So when you are contouring over hills, the openers aren’t as accurate as they could be if it was all on one row.”

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According to Vennard, it’s the desire to improve placement accuracy that has company engineers experimenting with a toolbar design similar to that used on planters, which typically have a single row of openers; but in a no-till environment, trash build up becomes a major obstacle for implementing that design on drills.

“The objective is to get all of the openers on one row so the knives are all on the same plane,” said Vennard. “The problem with that in a hoe drill environment is it picks up residue and doesn’t clear it as well.”

To make a single-row drill possible, SeedMaster’s approach is to include a row of ground-driven, spiked wheels that grab surface trash and force it through the opener row to prevent material piling up ahead of them.

All of the spiked wheels are linked through a flexible shaft system that gives them the ability to contour over uneven terrain. Linking them together prevents one wheel from stopping when soil and trash pile up in front of it. Drive from the other wheels in the row keeps each wheel turning and forcing material through.

With a trash wheel positioned between each opener, the design also offers allows for faster travel speeds in the field, because the wheels prevent soil from one opener from being thrown to the side and covering adjacent seed rows, which has been a limiting factor for drill speeds.

“You actually get a little bit of increased travel speed as well, because the hindrance is how much soil gets thrown (to the side),” said Vennard. “With these wheels running in between the knives the soil hits the wheels.”

Another other advantage is in turns and gradual curves through the field, the row spacing stays the same. “When you have a deep frame, that row spacing varies,” he notes. A single-row frame would also make for a lighter drill, requiring less horsepower to pull.

Since the drill design hasn’t been finalized, no pricing details are available, but less steel in the frame might offset the cost of the trash wheel system.

“We’re still working with it, so I’m not sure when there will be a production release,” said Vennard. “Right now we’re testing on 15 (inch row spacing). Everything is still in evolution.”

Spiked, ground-driven wheels, all connected by a flexible linkage, help material flow between openers.
photo: Scott Garvey

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Scott Garvey

Scott Garvey is a freelance writer and video producer. He is also the former machinery editor at Grainews.

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