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Award winning drill incorporates new technology

Some of the features on the Great Plains Centurion drill, which is designed for European fields, may find their way onto North American models

There are some really nice technological features on this machine,” said Daniel Rauchholz, president of Great Plains International, as he sat at a table inside the Great Plains display at Ag Connect Expo in Kansas City in January. He was discussing the features on the firm’s new Centurion small-grains drill.

But the Downtown Convention Centre in Kansas City is a long way from the European farm fields the Centurion was designed to work in, so why exhibit it at a show in the U.S. Midwest? “The main reason we showed it here is because of the international nature of the show and because we won a Silver Innovation award for it,” he added. “You could see some technology spin off of it. We’ve patented some nice things on it.”

Innovation awards are handed out at each biannual Ag Connect Expo, and winners are chosen as “the best of the best” of ASABE’s (American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers) AE50 design awards over the previous two years. The Centurion garnered an Innovation award in the Silver category.

The Centurion is the first new product designed by the company since it purchased U.K.-based Simba, another implement and seeding equipment manufacturer, in 2010. Despite the fact that the company doesn’t expect to sell the Centurion in North America, some of the features it offers may find their way onto other products designed for the U.S. and Canadian market.

“The hopper is sitting on weigh cells, so you always know how much grain you have in the hopper,” Rauchholz explained. The drill’s controller also uses data from those cells to maintain even weight distribution across the working width of the toolbar. “You can transfer some of that weight to the wings and program it so there is always even down pressure across the width of the machine,” he added. That helps ensure a consistent seeding depth.

When the hopper starts to run low on seed, the tractor operator doesn’t need to worry about contacting a helper to bring another load of seed and fertilizer, the Centurion does that automatically. “We have a text message feature, so the guy coming to fill the drill will get a message,” he continued. “You can program that in.”

The unique design of the hopper is elongated so that it can be filled with a front-end loader if necessary. Underneath it, the meter is capable of using three different, quick-change rollers, so it can reliably handle very large or very small seeds. “You can be very precise with canola or small-seeded crops. We have a special roller for those. And you can plant very shallow.”

When doing calibration tests, Great Plains’ engineers have added a feature that makes that process a lot simpler process. With the pull of a lever, all seed passing through the meter can be redirected to a special outlet for collection in a bag, making it easy to get a measured sample. “With the weigh scales, you also know, is my seeding rate accurate to what my calibration is,” said Rauchholz. “You’re adding another check and balance.”

None of the lines to seed blockage sensors are exposed on the Centurion. They’re all routed inside the machine for durability. “We want to try and protect them from the elements,” he added.

The drill has section control capability. And it also allows the operator to shut off flow to individual openers for farmers who practice controlled traffic field operations. As for when these features will appear on North American drills, stay tuned. †

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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