At Canada’s Farm Progress Show in Regina last year, Vaderstad (the Swedish company that now owns Saskatchewan-based Seed Hawk) debuted the newest version of its Tempo planter line, the L24. The brand calls it their “next generation high-speed planter,” because it’s designed specifically for use with small-seeded crops like canola.
“This is the first edition from Vaderstad specifically for small seeds that is at the width and capacity that farmers in Western Canada need,” said Philip Korczak, one of Vaderstad’s product reps, while showing Grainews around the model on display at the show grounds.
Although with 24 row units it has only half the working width of a 70-foot air drill, Korczak says, the L24 can easily match the productivity of a typical air drill that size.
“This is a high-speed planter as well,” he added. “For our (Seed Hawk) air seeders, we recommend canola at four to four and a quarter miles per hour. This, realistically, you’re going to be doing canola at seven, 7-1/2 to eight miles per hour, depending on soil prep conditions. Our 35-foot wide Tempo is really a 70-foot wide air seeder in terms of productivity.”
To prove that claim and demonstrate the 17.7-inch row spacing the L24 uses for small seeded crops can produce comparable yields, Vaderstad put a Tempo planter into head-to-head trials with an air drill and a planter from a competing brand in Saskatchewan this year.
“We’ve done a number of trials this year,” explained Kyle Herperger, a Vaderstad product specialist. “We’ve put it against 10- and 12-inch spaced air seeders. We’ve gone against 15-inch competitive planters, with ours at 17.7 inches. What the results are showing so far in the planting season is we’re just taking one extra day to close the rows in, compared to a 15-inch spacing.”
He acknowledges that initially many producers had reservations about using 17.7-inch row spacing for canola, but he believes the good crop stands produced in the field trials have eased those concerns.
“People who seemed to be concerned with that spacing, once they saw the crop come up and fully close in the rows, they were suddenly more comfortable with the 17.7-inch rows and weren’t concerned anymore,” he said.
“In the trials we ranged our plant populations from a target of about four plants per square foot to nine. What we’ve seen so far is we have a more consistent plant growth and development in maintaining even plant sizing at the lower rate. As we got into the higher rates, it seems there is too high of a plant population. And there is more competition happening amongst the canola in the row.”
Targeting a lower plant count per square foot and still getting a good stand is possible with the accuracy offered by using a planter, Vaderstad claims, and it adds that could save producers a lot of money.
“We’re targeting four to five plants per square foot,” said Korczak. Likely most farmers currently are four pounds to the acre on their air seeder. We should likely be around two pounds per acre with this machine.
“So just rough numbers. If you’re going to save two pounds of canola, at say, $15 per pound. That’s a savings of $30 per acre for every acre this thing plants.”
But there is one disadvantage producers using an L24 would have to contend with. It will require a second pass to apply all the fertilizer required, something an air seeder could do in just one.
“As this machine sits currently, it does have about a 140-bushel fertilizer hopper on it, which has individual coulters per row,” said Korczak as he stood beside the display model in Regina. “That might work for your phosphorous needs. But for your nitrogen needs, you’re going to have to have some additional application, whether that means a fall banded application or something spread in the spring prior to going in there in the spring, or maybe top dressing afterwards. But what you’re going to give up by having to do an extra nitrogen application, you’re going to gain on your seed savings, for what this machine will save you in terms of pounds per acre compared to a traditional air seeder.”
The L24 is available for customer order now, and Vaderstad plans to fill those orders in time for the 2019 seeding season, with full production beginning in November. The price for a new Tempo L24 has also been set.
“It’s going to depend if you decide to go with the fertilizer hopper and all on it,” Korczak said. “You can delete the fertilizer hopper and fertilizer coulters and just go with the row units if you want to. And it would range anywhere from $280,000 full retail to $350,000 full retail.”