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Growing capacity while limiting compaction

Seed Hawk’s 1,300-bushel air seeder cart rides on rubber belts to blend 
greatly increased capacity with a very light footprint

This isn’t for everybody,” said Brian Dean, Seed Hawk’s vice president, director of R&D. He made that comment as he stood in front of the company’s prototype model 1300 air seeder cart during last year’s Canada’s Farm Progress Show in Regina. And there’s no doubting those words, but the cart is a clear example of what many of today’s large-scale farmers are looking for: equipment that offers increased capacity and efficiency.

This coming spring the gigantic model 1300, four-compartment cart will head into its second season of preproduction field trials as engineers continue to fine tune its design. “This past spring we put 2,500 acres on one,” Dean added.

The 1300

The 1300 is the biggest cart to roll out of Seed Hawk’s Langbank, Saskatchewan, factory since the company began operations. At the concept stage, engineers had to think about how they could get the kind of capacity they wanted and still be able to get it down farm roads. And with the global market the company now sells into, the cart also had to conform to a size that allows it to ship overseas at the lowest cost. That lead to its unique shape, which is a little reminiscent of a railway hopper car.

“The length is a little intimidating,” conceded Dean. “It’s 53 feet and the wheelbase is about 35 feet, so it does get in and out of standard approaches. However, we designed it for export shipment as well. So, we had to keep it narrower for sea containers. That stretched the length a little bit.”

When the 1300 is eventually released for sale, it will be one of a very select few carts offered with a rubber track system instead of tires as a standard feature. “With 1,300 bushels, fully loaded, it weighs in at about 115,000 pounds,” he said. “So we were limited on tire options. By the time you price out what you might need, like tandem duals on the back, cost-wise it (tracks) quickly balanced out.”

Tracks offer a performance advantage as well. Remarkably, the 1300 has a lower ground compaction rating than some of the company’s smaller seed carts. “The entire cart only puts down 10 p.s.i. of compaction,” continued Dean. “Whereas the tires on our 800 cart, for example, put down 25 p.s.i. when it’s fully loaded.”

And to meet the challenging field conditions farmers could face during a damp spring, engineers wanted the 1300 to have superior floatation as well. “This is not something you want to get stuck either, so we needed it to walk on water,” Dean added with a smile.

Seeding

Even with its much larger size, the 1300 is able to work with Seed Hawk’s existing metering technology and distribution system. But the final version of the 1300 will likely see modifications to that system in order to deliver a higher volume of product to the openers.

“Our concern is the extra length, because we’re adding 25 feet to the lines,” Dean said. “In canola we were up to 335 pounds of fertilizer blend. We had to back off from 5.2 to 4.7 miles per hour, otherwise we were starting to experience the odd plugged run. There are still a few challenges. Not everyone wants to seed at four and a half miles per hour. But if you think about it, if you can stay in the tractor seat for five hours instead of two and a half, you can seed a lot of (extra) acres no matter how fast you’re going.”

Creating the 1300 wasn’t just about growing overall load capacity, according to Dean the company also wants to put this cart on the cutting edge of overall efficiency. “The design wasn’t just to build the biggest air cart in the world,” he said. “It was to make it modular, so we used load cells. Hopefully, it will eventually eliminate calibration so you can just put in your default [calibration] settings and go ahead and your load cells will automatically keep you on rate all the time.”

As Seed Hawk’s engineering staff continue the R&D process with the 1300, there is no firm word on when it will hit the market. “This won’t be released for another year, at least,” said Dean. †

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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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