The introduction of the air hoe drill with independently-linked seed openers started a revolution in no-till seeding. With most major manufacturers offering their own version of the air hoe drill, growers looking to invest in the technology now have a lot of options.
But the air hoe drill is only one of the no-till seeder designs on the market, and it may not be a perfect fit for every operation. Producers considering the purchase of new seeding equipment need to take a close look at what seeder type will work best in their operations.
Having said that, the air hoe drill is unquestionably at the forefront of no-till seeding technology, and the potential gains to be made from adopting the kind of agronomic practices in which these designs work best are impressive.
Getting air hoe drill systems to consistently function well across regions with considerably different soil types and rainfall amounts has presented challenges. And the current offerings from the major manufacturers make for some impressive engineering in attempts to meet those challenges. All take advantage of the same basic concept, but each brand put its own design spin on it.
Now these independent-opener designs bring not only input savings, but improvements in seed placement accuracy as well. Growers can select from a variety of models with features to exactly suit many different operating conditions.
Here is a look at the different independently linked opener designs, listed in alphabetical order.
The 3310 Bourgault air drill uses their Paralink opener. This seed-only, single-shank design has a fully pneumatic 12.2 cm (4.8-inch) wide packer wheel. “The 3310 PHD provides a two-to-one vertical opener-to-packer ratio to strike a balance between contour-ability and stability to achieve superior seeding consistency,” says Rob Fagnou of Bourgault Industries. If the packer wheel moves up two inches, the corresponding opener goes up one inch. “The opener doesn’t follow every little bump, and the shank allow growers to use a variety of aftermarket openers to exactly match their operating conditions. Shank spacing is available in 10 or 12 inches.
The Paralink system has an adjustable trip force of up to 275 kg (600 pounds) and packing pressure can be set from the tractor cab between 30 and 90 kg (70 and 200 pounds). The in-cab control monitor allows for three kg (seven pound) adjustment increments of packing pressure and nine kg (20 pounds) of trip-out pressure.
The Paralink gets its name from the parallel-linkage design that keeps the opener angle constant as it moves up and down following the field’s contours. The linkage has an indexed-pin adjustment system with 15 positions that allows seeding depth to be fine-tuned in four mm (1/16-inch) increments.
The 3310’s frame uses a three-row concept with five-by-five-inch main beams. That design maintains the same minimum spacing between openers on the same row as the Bourgault 5710 five-row AHD, and allows for a dedicated front row for the MRB option.
Bourgault’s edge-on shank design makes for minimum soil disturbance, while its front-delivery seed boot minimizes plugging in wet conditions. All that, Bourgault says, allows the 3310 to leave one of the smoothest field finishes of any air drill on the market.
See for a list
of features on the 3310 air hoe drill.
JOHN DEERE(CONSERVA PAK)
Deere’s Conserva Pak 1870 uses a dual-arm truss system designed to provide enhanced lateral strength, which limits stress on the seeder’s frame. And the opener itself is 39 per cent shorter than other manufacturer’s designs. Deere says that helps prevent deflection during turns, which can cause too much separation between the seed and fertilizer in left turns and too little during right runs.
The design uses a V-shaped packer wheel to create a three-inch furrow above the seed row. “It actually leaves a groove in the soil to help create a beneficial environment for seedlings,” says Aubrey Grove, program manager for Deere’s Conserva Pak drills. The packer wheel comes with a standard scraper to prevent soil build up in wet conditions.
The 1870 uses a pair of single-acting hydraulic cylinders to provide shank tip and packing pressure on each opener. The two separate cylinders allow fertilizer and seed-opener trip forces to be adjusted independently of each other. Break-out force is set by adjusting the pressure on two independent hydraulic accumulators. The fertilizer opener is linked to one accumulator, while the seed opener and press-wheel down-force is adjusted on the second.
The use of this type of accumulator system minimizes hydraulic demand on the tractor, according to Deere. And lifting the openers out of the ground only requires activating a maximum of seven frame-lift provides more consistent seed depth,” says Fagnou. “The consistency of the 3310 PHD greatly reduces any negative effects of seeding against the previous year’s furrows. Farmers can seed in whatever direction they feel is best.” And Fagnou claims the 2:1 ratio also allows for faster seeding speeds because it reduces opener bounce in rough terrain.
For fertilizer application, Bourgault offers optional mid-row banding (MRB) coulters between every second shank. These coulters are designed to cut through heavy trash.
Bourgault claims the 3310 is the best available drill when it comes to working in heavy trash conditions, due in part to the greater distance between opener and packer wheel that improves trash flow.
Although the company doesn’t make or endorse the use of side-row banding knives, growers can install an aftermarket type — as long as it meets certain width restrictions — without voiding the factory warranty. In fact, multiple opener mounting locations on