Multi Farming Systems of Queensland, Australia has built a 160-foot drill so farmers short on labour can get their fields planted in time. The first questions that spring to mind are: Who has fields big enough for a rig this size? And can you get a tractor big enough to pull this thing?
First, the fields. Queensland has very big farms — tens of thousands of acres — and these farms have very big fields. Some fields take an hour and a half to get up and back, says Kris Trevilyan, marketing manager for Multi Farming Systems.
As for the horsepower requirement, the company designed the drill to suit the biggest tractors on the market. The drill has 96 shanks on 20-inch row spacing, and you need four horsepower per shank when planting shallow. “However, with the Multiplanter, farmers have the ability to go down quite deep to plant directly into the moisture, and for that we recommend six horsepower per shank,” Trevilyan says. In other words, you need at least 500 horsepower to keep your options open.
Graham Ful ler, nat ional machinery editor for Queensland Country Life, reported about the 160-foot Multiplanter this summer. “The property owner of the latest Multiplanter sowing rig was moisture seeking down to eight inches and covering seed with two inches of dirt…. Travelling at 4.5 mph, a massive 500-hp Steiger STX wheeled tractor was planting about 125 acres per hour using less power as a result of the action of the new sensor tyne technology,” Fuller wrote.
Australians use the word “tyne” instead of shank. The new sensor tyne technology Fuller mentions is one “sensor tyne” that measures soil resistance. If the assembly on that tyne is moving up out of the soil, the sensor recognizes that it’s not pushing hard enough. It increases the hydraulic pressure for all tynes. “Each individual opener assembly moves independently to follow the contours of the field, but the pressue under the press wheels that is being centrally controlled by that one sensor tyne,” Trevilyan says. You set the depth for each assembly separately, using an adjusting screw.
To help with steering, Multiplanters have optional steer-able wheels at the rear. Hydraulicpowered steering kits on these wheels can be wired to the GPS autosteer system in the tractor. “There is no point in having just the tractor on autosteer if you have a 40-foot hitch and a lot of slope creep,” says Trevilyan.
The one and only 160-footer that Multi-Farming Systems has built will probably stay out in the fields. It won’t hit the road very often. But of course, all farm equipment has to travel at some point. The 160-foot Multiplanter doesn’t fold up for transport. Instead, you hook the tractor to one end and pull it down the road in a very long but remarkably
narrow unit. Opener assemblies at the back fold against the frame and out of the way.
IF 160 FEET ISN’T ENOUGH…
Designer David Trevilyan says there really isn’t any limit on how wide a Multiplanter can be built. “We have a design for a 302-foot Multiplanter on the table because the tynes are so light to pull,” he says. “It really is just a matter of the farmers with bigger acreages getting their heads around the concept of such a huge machine.” And when they did get their head around the concept, they’d have to custom build a tractor to go along with their drill.
“The 302-foot Multiplanter that is on the drawing board will have tracer chains (connected to the hitch to keep the far wings in line), and the tractor will be WAY out in front so that stress is not put unduly on the middle frames,” Kris Trevilyan says.
WILL THE MULTIPLANTER WORKINCA NADIAN CONDITIONS?
When asked whether she saw a fit for the 160-foot Multiplanter drill in Western Canada, Kris Trevilyan says the Multiplanter works in any conditions. “We have farmers planting rice, wheat, pasture grass, etc. The only reason it has been profiled so highly as a specialist no-till dryland planter is because they are the only farmers to date who need them so wide,” she says.
She doesn’t know if they’ve had any enquiries from Western Canada specifically, but they have from a number of African countries, France, U. K., Russia, and the Middle East. For more information, visit the website at www.multifarmingsystems.com.au.
Jay Whetter is editor of Grainews