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Adapting planter design

A Prairie retailer and distributor team up with manufacturers to create 
a unique seeding implement designed specifically to meet western needs

We always want to keep advancing,” said Kellen Huber, owner of short-line retailer Tri Star Farm Service at Regina, as he described the modified Monosem planter with attached Morris 650 air cart on display at Canada’s Farm Progress Show in June. “There are new (seeding) ideas and new products coming to the table,” he added. And his experimentation with planters, adapting them to common western Canadian farming practices, is certainly bringing a few more.

In an effort to combine the precision seeding strengths of a planter with Prairie farmers’ desire for one-pass seeding, Huber was instrumental in getting engineers to fuse a Morris air cart to a Monosem planter. This past spring, the first two units configured this way went to work in Saskatchewan fields seeding a variety of crop types. The blended implement design is also meant to create a planter able to meet the demands of prairie oilseed growers, but still give them flexibility to seed other crops like corn and soybeans.

Traditional planter use has required applying fertilizer in a separate field pass. Huber’s modification makes that unnecessary. The Morris air cart feeds granular fertilizer to the planter, supplying both a separate starter course in the seed row and additional runs for mid-row placement. It also keeps the individual hoppers on each row opener topped up with seed.

“Basically what we’re doing is placing our fertilizer in-row and as well as mid-row,” he continues. “And the cart also becomes a (seed) nurse to the planter.”

“The reason why I chose a Morris cart is because they were able to do a triple-shoot system for us,” Huber says. “Now we have the option of changing tanks to different air streams. Their (Morris’) meter technology is working really well with our metering system on the planter. The other thing is the twin fans on the back of the cart. We can get our airflow without damaging the seed going into the planter boxes. But we also get enough air pressure to do the mid-row and in-row (fertilizer placement).”

Manufacturer support

Huber says he chose to graft the Morris air cart to a Monosem-brand planter, one of the lines his company retails, because of the support he was able to get from the manufacturers and their willingness to experiment with this system.

“Monosem is an old enough company, but they’re still looking to penetrate the market,” he explains. “So they’re willing to do more. They keep evolving.”

“When we came to the (Canada’s Farm Progress) show last year, the biggest thing everybody was asking for was a one-pass system,” said Brian Seeker, territory sales manager for Monosem. “So we talked about it before I left. Throughout the year we got Morris to work with us on the distribution system for dry fertilizer. But a lot of the work was done by the guys here.”

The demonstration unit Tri Star displayed at Canada’s Farm Progress Show in Regina in June was one of the two the company used in field trials this past spring. Huber was satisfied with their performance and had them available for sale at the show. Both use a 40-foot toolbar with row openers on 15-inch spacings. That provides a closer row spacing intended to appeal to canola growers. The same unit can be used by producers who want to plant corn by simply raising every second opener and planting on a 30-inch spacing.

The Monosem toolbar used by the demonstration units is essentially unchanged from the company’s standard design, except for the addition of a heavy-duty hitch to pull the air cart. “We spent a lot of time designing a hitch big enough for the size of carts you guys have up here (in Canada),” adds Seeker. “The system for delivering the fertilizer, we had to do a little work on. Morris spent a lot of time on this project, too, helping us match the two together.”

Eventually, Huber hopes to have similarly-configured models available in 60-foot working widths, and is even considering wider 80-foot versions. Future planters equipped this way will also be mated to a Morris cart.

“We were really happy with the accuracy of the fertilizer that came out of the Morris (metre),” adds Seeker.

Huber says he and those he has worked with on the concept have considered the idea of getting row spacings down to 10 inches, but then planter becomes very heavy because of the high weight of row units. So, it becomes a trade-off: narrower row spacings or wider working widths. With a planter there is a limit to how big you can realistically go and still have both.

Both Huber and Seeker say they believe the Monosem planter designed to work with the Morris air cart exactly fits a market need. “I think it’s a real good fit for what the farmers are wanting to do,” says Seeker. “The biggest thing up here is guys want to do one pass. They want to minimize stopping. So we’re trying to match the accuracy of the planter, the singulation capability, the spacing on the ground with the fertilizer capacity.” †

About the author

Contributor

Scott Garvey

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

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