Late last year, management at SeedMaster gave some of their customers (and Grainews)a preview of a prototype air cart the company had under development. In June, that prototype appeared at the Western Canada Farm Progress Show in the form of the Nova XP-820 Smart Cart, where it won a Sterling Innovation award from show organizers. This fall the new cart begins production, so we thought it was time to take a detailed look at what makes it different from the company s previous models and why it won that award.
It all started with a wish list that I, as a farmer, wanted in a pressurized air cart, says Norbert Beaujot, president of SeedMaster and chief engineer on the XP-820 design project. One of the other things on that wish list was large capacity.
To meet that requirement, the XP-820 is big. Its three main 260 bushel compartments and a 40 bushel small-seed tank give it an 820 bushel capacity. Although Bourgault s new 950 bushel 9750 air cart beats the XP-820 when it comes single-unit capacity, the XP-820 can be combined with SeedMaster s 300 bushel, toolbarmounted seed tank for a combined total of 1,120 bushels. When it comes to the drill-cart combinations readily available in Western Canada, that pairing puts SeedMaster in first place in overall product-carrying capacity for the time being, at least.
To carry those bushels, the XP-820 uses a single-axle, two-wheeled design that places some of its forward weight on the toolbar. The company claims this configuration minimizes skewing on hillsides and allows it to track better in turns. It also makes backing up the entire seeding unit a little easier.
Carrying capacity is one thing, delivering seed safely to the openers along with supplying adequate fertilizer amounts is another. Most air carts were designed to work with air drills up to only 60 feet wide, not the 70-to 90-foot drills many producers now use to seed crops faster as farm sizes increase, says Beaujot. And they weren t built to handle the high rates of fertilizer now being used on these large air drills as variable rate fertility gains momentum.
I believe that s why we won the Innovation Award, he says, because rather than simply building a bigger air cart, we ve found new solutions to some very old problems.
According to the specifications SeedMaster has released on the XP-820, it s capable of delivering up to 400 pounds of fertilizer per acre at five m.p.h. on any size of drill currently available, and it can do it with no plugging and minimal seed damage. That s up to 50 per cent more product than existing carts, says Beaujot.
To achieve that, the number of primary runs has been increased. It s like adding lanes to a highway, he says. Instead of the standard six or eight, we increased it to 10. Two separate fans supply the air required to move product through seed and fertilizer lines, and the volume rates are individually controlled.
We did that by isolating the airflows for seed and fertilizer in each primary run so air can t leak from one run to another, says Beaujot. That lets us feed low fan speeds in the seed run and high fan speeds in the fertilizer run, side by side. We also use slide gates on each primary run to balance the airflow. You can set lower air speeds on short hoses carrying product to the centre of the drill, and higher air speeds on long hoses carrying product to the outer edges of the drill to prevent seed bounce.
Seed bounce occurs when very high airflow rates cause seed to come out of the openers too quickly, negatively affecting placement accuracy. That can be a problem, especially for small-seeded crops like canola.
To further minimize the risk of seed damage, rubber-lined distribution manifolds with six or eight outlets are used instead of the typical 12, which Beaujot says requires less air to distribute seed and fertilizer. It also helps reduce plugging.
The XP-820 is equipped with load cells under each compartment to supply real-time data to the monitor in the tractor, letting the operator know how much product is left in each tank. Farmers have never had a way of knowing with precision how much is in their tanks, says Beaujot. So they re constantly running back to check tank levels, hoping they don t run out of seed or fertilizer. Now if there s 50 acres left to seed, they can fill with the exact amount needed to the pound so they re not cleaning out leftovers at the end of a field. It s a tremendous time saver. Operators can also use information from the load cells combined with GPS data to confirm they re seeding at exactly the correct rate.
To make loading safer and easier, the XP-820 uses a remotely- controlled fill conveyor and compartment lids can be opened and closed hydraulically, entirely eliminating the need to climb up on the cart.
The XP-820 and its DICKEYaohn controller come ready to handle variable rate application as well. It uses 10 primary metering runs; the extra runs mean each zone is now only eight feet wide, which further minimizes overlap when the company s Zone Control feature is used. You can stop or start any of those metering rollers to control product flow to eight-foot sections of the drill, says Beaujot.
If you missed seeing the Nova XP-820 at SeedMaster s display in Regina last June, it will also put in an appearance at the Agri-Trade show in Red Deer in November.
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