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9700 Series Sunflower drills optimize seedbed utilization

AGCO has given its newest air drill a “ribbon-seeding” opener, putting 
seed and fertilizer into 50 per cent of the available seedbed


In 2011, AGCO introduced the model 9800 Sunflower air drill at its dealer convention in Kansas City. The 9800 is a joint venture between AGCO and North Dakota-based Amity Technologies. Amity created the design and AGCO took it on as one of its own products under the Sunflower brand, providing global sales and parts distribution through its AGCO dealer network.

For the 2013 model year, the 9800, with its single-disc opener on an independently-linked long arm, is joined by the all-new 9700 Series drill, which offers a shank-style opener. It too, is a result of the partnership with Amity.

The shank opener on the new 9700 uses what the company calls a “ribbon-seeding” design, which distributes seed across a wide, five-inch band instead of the typical narrow row.

With 10-inch row spacings, the 9700’s ribbon opener leaves only five inches of unused soil between each five-inch band of seed, so there is a very high rate of seedbed utilization. The company believes this higher utilization rate can boost yields, because more seed and fertilizer can be put into a field.

“The ribbon-seeding style of the 9700 Series was long ago proven to produce yields that consistently outperform conventional row drills,” said Tom Draper, Sunflower seeding and tillage product marketing manager.

“This is actually a second generation of the Concorde Drill,” explained Mark Wyrick, a product specialist with Amity Technologies during a field demonstration near Beloit, Kansas, last July. AGCO invited members of the farm media there to see the new drill close up.

“With the ribbon seeding) using 10-inch spacings, we use 50 per cent of the field,” he added. “Because of that, you can put down three or four times the amount of fertilizer with the seed. It’s designed for small grains.”

The 9700 Series drills are capable of keeping that wide ribbon-seeding opener in the ground even in very hard field conditions. Each shank has a standard 650-pound trip force. So, the 9700 drill is capable of working in fields under both no-till and conventional tillage regimes. Because of that, marketing reps refer to the 9700 as an “air till drill.” AGCO claims the overall weight of each model in the 9700 Series is significantly more than competitors’ offerings to help keep the openers from riding out. “We can also put a coulter on the front if you’re working in a lot of residue,” said Wyrick.

Seed placement

To get consistant seed placement across the drill’s full width, the frame is levelled using shims on the hydraulic cylinders. And the 9700 is capable of seeding up to three inches deep. That ability to work in the toughest conditions means a farmer would need a pretty significant tractor up front, if he’s going to seed into really firm soil.

“As a rule of thumb, you want a big tractor on this one,” Wyrick continued, as he stood in the field next to the demo drill. “On this one, which is a 40-foot model, you’d want at least a 400-horsepower tractor or more. We have 50- and 60-foot drills as well and you’d want a 500 and 600 horsepower tractor respectively, to be comfortable.”

Coulters mounted on each side of the shank openers keep dirt from being thrown over top of adjacent seed rows, which helps ensure even seed depth across the full frame width. That feature also makes the 9700 capable of working at higher speeds. “You can plant up to eight m.p.h. with this one,” he added.

Behind the openers is a row of off-set packer wheels mounted on a tandem pivot. Each wheel can exert up to 300 pounds of packing pressure. “You get really good seed-to-soil contact with that across the ribbon (of seed) you’re creating,” he added.

The 9700 is also able to place additional fertilizer below the ribbon of seed using a separate opener. “If you put that additional seed boot on and run an additional manifold, you’re pretty much unlimited to how much fertilizer you can put down. Between the ribbon seeding, using all that space and all the fertilizer you can put around it, this drill outperforms any other. You’re actually getting more seed and more fertilizer in the ground.”

To help the operator ensure product is flowing through the air system when seeding, 9700 drills are also available with an optional, wireless seed blockage monitor system. Using auditory sensors, the ECU on the drill can send a wireless signal to an iPad in the tractor cab. “We’ve developed a free app to go with that,” says Wyrick. “That’s the wave of the future. †

About the author

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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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