Under its current management, Versatile has been aggressively expanding its product line with aim of becoming a full-line manufacturer. Barely two years after breaking into the air drill market with the technology it acquired through the purchase of Eeze-On Manufacturing, the brand recently introduced an entirely new model with independently-linked openers. Called the ML Series, the new drill was introduced at the 2012 Canada’s Farm Progress Show in Regina.
“A team of engineers has been working on this new technology and we are extremely impressed with the results,” says Adam Reid, Versatile’s director of marketing.
What sets the ML Series apart from much of its competition is it does not rely on hydraulic power to maintain consistent seed placement, lessening power demands on the tractor.
“The ML Series drill is able to maintain seeding depth, packing pressure and shank tip force without hydraulic cylinders on each shank, meaning that the tractor requirement, in both horsepower and hydraulic, is less than comparable existing parallel link drills,” Reid adds.
“ML, means ‘mechanical linkage,’ versus using a hydraulic cylinder for your independent shanks,” said Trevor Jubinville, Versatile’s product marketing manager during an interview at the Regina show in June. “It’s a true one-to-one linkage that uses spring pressure and a separate trip spring. When you adjust the packing pressure the trip force is not compromised.”
Packing pressure is changed by adjusting the drill’s frame height, which can be done by simply raising or lowering it hydraulically from the tractor cab. But the drill also senses changing field conditions and makes any necessary adjustments automatically. Each section of the drill (up to five, depending on the working width) has its own gauge wheel. The system compares the position of that wheel to the position of the independently-linked openers beside it. If necessary, hydraulic flow is automatically directed to the lift cylinders to raise or lower the frame, altering the pressure at the openers.
All of that is part of what Versatile calls its ALIVE system (Accurate seed placement with Level, Independent openers for uncompromised Vertical Emergence of crops).
The system includes three pre-set depth control settings the tractor operator can chose from. Each adjustment changes the opener angle to allow for shallow, medium or deep seed placement. “What that means for the farmer is he can choose the furrow profile (depth) he wants from the cab of the tractor,” explained Jubinville. “So we give him a choice of three: shallow for oilseeds, medium for cereals and deep for legumes.”
Versatile’s ALIVE system netted the company an AE50 Award this year from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) for its design.
Farmers can equip an ML Series drill with nearly any style of opener built by Atom-Jet. In preproduction field trials, Versatile used three-inch paired row and sideband openers.
Versatile’s air seeder carts use a Raven Omni-Seed, hydraulic-drive metering system. Current cart sizes run from 215 to 400 bushels, but the company has a larger, four-compartment cart, which also includes a canola tank, that underwent field trials last season. “What we tested this year was a 600 bushel,” added Jubinville.
The ML Series drill will be available in small numbers for the 2013 season with full production beginning in time for 2014. †