At Morris’ display on the grounds of Canada’s Farm Progress Show in Regina, the company’s chief operating officer, Don Henry, points out the two new air carts the brand is introducing for 2016, a tow-between version of its 800-bushel model and its biggest model yet, a 1,000-bushel, tow-behind cart.
But while Henry says the company intends to keep pace with the demands from growers for ever-larger carts, executives there think they may have an even better idea to help farmers improve efficiency in the spring.
“In the industry everything is bigger, bigger, bigger,” he says. “We understand that, but we’re always thinking, is there a better way to do something. There’s a percentage of the marketplace that needs that big cart. But we also looked at it and said, how big is big enough. Because when you get that big you also have to consider the horsepower it takes to pull it, the compaction that you may have, the manoeuvrability. And in the last few years in Western Canada we’ve been in a wet cycle. There’s been a lot of guys getting stuck. And the bigger the cart, the harder it is to get out.”
That’s where the better idea Henry mentions comes in. Alongside those two new air carts on display at the show was a brand new, four-compartment tender designed to help growers cover more acres per day with their existing equipment. The way the tender does that is by allowing a producer to fill all air cart compartments at once, cutting refill times down to under 10 minutes.
“The reason we (farmers) went to a bigger cart is because we don’t want to stop and refill,” he continues. “Fill time, takes time. It means we’re not doing acres. So what can we do, then, to improve fill time? We did some brainstorming to come up with ideas on how to improve those fill times. The design criteria was try and get that fill time from anywhere from 30 to 35 minutes down to five to seven minutes.”
“The idea came up that the only way to do that is to fill the four compartments at one time. So that’s when we started with the tender cart. And what we came up with is what we have here.”
The tender on display at the show is a 1,000-bushel, four-wheel cart that has one unloading auger for each of the four compartments. The unloading position of each auger is adjustable, and they can be operated with a remote control from the top of the air cart.
“The (tender) tank sizes at this time are made to match the Morris (air cart) tank,” says Henry. “But ultimately we could match up with other tanks, other makes.”
A PTO-driven pump on the tender’s hitch provides the drive for the unloading augers.
“The reason we went that way rather than PTO direct is hydraulics is a nice clean way to do it and easy to control from the top with the remote,” he explains. “The augers are hydraulically dropped into the tank from the tractor. Now you can operate them from the top (of the cart) with the remote.”
The system is then able to fill Morris’ 1,000-bushel air cart in about five to seven minutes, turning an in-field refill into something like a NASCAR pit stop.
“You can fill him anywhere in the field,” Henry adds. “It’s like a grain cart in the fall; you can fill it anywhere. You’re not wasting time having to drive (the drill) to the other end of the field or fill when you’re not empty yet because you can’t make it to the other end of the field and back.”
And company executives considered the argument against the tender idea as being just another machine with another cost. To counter that line of thinking, the prototype tender can also replace a machine many farmers already use, the grain cart.
“The other concept was we all have grain carts we only use at harvest time,” he goes on. “We might use it around the yard a little bit. Was there a way we could combine the efficiencies in the spring and also use it (the tender) as a grain cart? So with this particular cart we have here, we can compress those augers into one point. So now I can fill a grain trailer, in any part of the trailer I want. They’ll come together close enough that I can fill a grain-bagger hopper. I can now use it for harvest. I can use it as a grain cart in the fall and turn around and gain all the efficiencies in the spring of filling the air cart as well.”
Trying it out
After a year of field trials, Henry says the tender concept proved itself.
“We had it out (with a large farmer) at Gerald, Saskatchewan, this spring,” he says. “They had five units, but one was off by itself seeding flax. That guy said it (the tender) saved him two hours a day in fill time. Depending on the size of your drill, you start doing the math, and you can save some significant acres every day. And maybe, just maybe, you don’t have to go to as big a tank and save some horsepower, compaction, manoeuvrability, and getting stuck, those types of things.
Using an idea management employed with the Razr drill a couple of years ago, Morris is once again showing a prototype and asking the public to participate in selecting a name for it.
“It (the tender) is a different concept,” acknowledges Henry. “We’re actually enlisting the help of the public to help us come up with a name, because we don’t know what to call it.”
“So that’s our thought. It’s a different concept. It’s a different category. We’re kind of putting our toe in the water and testing the market. We’ll see after the show what the response is. But we can turn it around relatively quickly. I think we can have some (built) this year.”