New generation seeding tools get high marks from AgTechDate posted: May 10, 2002
A fresh wave of openers and other seeding tools have hit the market over the past several years and rigorous testing at the AgTech Centre in Lethbridge reveals the new equipment offers several key benefits for producers.
“All of the tools we tested improved seeding performance,” says Lawrence Papworth, a Seeding and Tillage Project Engineer at the AgTech Centre, the headquarters of Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development’s Engineering Services Branch. “They offer advantages in everything from field performance and versatility to durability and efficiency.”
New seeding systems were put through their paces over two years of testing at the Centre, beginning in 2000. Equipment was tested for field performance, durability, ease-of-use and power requirements. The Centre is a North American leader in agriculture equipment testing, providing a “boot camp” of sorts for new equipment still under development and equipment that has already reached the market.
Papworth and his team tested six seeding systems: the Burr Packer system, an opener and packing system; the Key Ag Ventures Coulter, a conventional coulter; the Key Ag Ventures Sweep with Back Swept Knife, a pair-row double-shoot opener; Harvest Technologies CB12, a pair-row single-shoot opener; Harvest Technologies CB15, a side-place double-shoot opener; and the Gray Seeding System, a pair-row double-shoot type opener.
The Burr Packer System was developed by TechnoTill with assistance from the AgTech Centre, and consists of a knife opener that places the seed. A burr pushes the soil around the seed and packs the soil. “This system helps farmers in wetter areas who weren’t happy with wheel packers,” he says. “In wet conditions, wheel packers can build up with mud, which prevents them from doing any packing. The system does require some work to set up, but once it’s operating it has good durability. It’s also an easy way to make an air drill out of an old cultivator, which is something a lot of farmers want to do because of costs.”
The Key Ag Ventures Coulter is a conventional coulter, which can be used for residue cutting, fertilizing and seeding. The difference with this coulter is the trip mechanism, consisting of a torsion bar placed horizontally above the coulter blade. “It had a few durability problems during the testing, but the manufacturer has fixed those,” he says. “Otherwise it did the job and worked as well as other coulters.”
Another Key Ag Ventures product was tested — the Sweep with Back Swept Knife. This model is a modification of a system that has been around for awhile, says Papworth. The system includes a sweep opener and backswept knife. “The sweeps are now cast metal and the backswept knife runs shallower, requiring less power,” he says. “It’s a flexible system that stood up well in rocky field conditions.”
Harvest Technologies CB12 pair-row single-shoot opener distinguishes itself from most other openers in that it places the fertilizer at the same depth as the seed. This requires less power than openers that band fertilizer. “This opener is outfitted with carbide tips, so it should last a long time,” he says. “It is a wide opener so it more suited to an air drill that has wider packers.”
Harvest Technologies also has the CB15, a side-placed double-shoot opener. It has the same advantages as the CB15 — low horsepower requirements and all leading edges are made from carbide. “With both the CB12 and CB15 you get a mix of fertilizer with the seed, but it wasn’t enough to cause any damage.”
The Gray Seeding System is a copy of the Anderson opener, developed for the Concord Seeder. Both the Anderson and the Gray Seeding System place a wide seed row to take advantage of the Concord’s wide packers. The Gray opener consists of a front fertilizer point and a packing plate, which pushes the soil around the fertilizer and makes the furrow for the seed. “The bottom line for farmers is that the Gray system very durable.”
When selecting a new opener, it pays to ensure that the opener matches the width of the packer, says Papworth. “I would also look at carbide points. Most farmers and manufacturers claim that you will get a lot more wear out of them and this should pay for itself in the end.”
The AgTech Centre is part of the Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Agricultural Engineering Branch and has a mandate to support agricultural sustainability.
© 2002 Meristem Land and Science