FOSSTON, Sask. – In the spring of 2005, Herbert Hallman decided something had to be done about the high cost of seeding his crop.
The size of Hallman’s farm didn’t merit newer air drill equipment. He had been applying nitrogen with an old air seeder and then seeding with a hoe drill, but the high cost of fuel and labour and the extra tractor hours prompted him to get into direct seeding by converting his IHC 7200 hoe drill to use liquid fertilizer.
Because Hallman also operates a farm equipment salvage business, he chose to build his own liquid cart. For convenience, he bought a new 2,000-gallon cone tank and cradle from Bourgault Industries.
With the tank and cradle in his shop, he was able to obtain accurate measurements to establish the final size of the wagon.
His plan was to salvage the axle from an IHC 1482 combine because it is a heavy-duty unit. But, when he removed the axle, it was too narrow, so he cut the axle and lengthened it by two feet.
He then reinforced it with channel iron, ending up with a six-inch by 10-inch axle: overbuilt but strong.
“We went to our local steel supplier and had him cut four-inch by eight-inch tubing to the required lengths on his band saw,” he said.
“In about three days, most of the frame was built, just like it was a kit.”
For the front wheels, Hallman used spindles and hubs from an old 960 CI combine. Steering for the cart includes a large ball and socket assembly.
“The spindles bolted onto the combine with an eight-inch square plate,” he said.
“We welded these to a short piece of eight-inch square tubing to construct our front axle.”
The front tires are 21.5L x 16.1 off an old Bourgault air seeder. For rear tires, Hallman’s first choice was 28L x 26 rice tires to reduce compaction.
“But used rice tires of any size are difficult to find in Saskatchewan and new ones would put us way over budget,” he said.
“By dumb luck, my neighbour offered me his old 1482 combine, which happened to have almost new 28L x 26 Ð 12-ply rice tires on it. I was able to purchase the whole combine for about the price of one new tire and they bolted directly onto my 1482 hubs.”
A unique feature of Hallman’s liquid wagon is that all the spindles can be replaced by removing just one bolt. He also installed grease nipples in the hubs to eliminate dry wheel bearings.
Hallman said people with liquid fertilizer experience told him to install an electric clutch on the drive.
With the commonly used bypass systems, the operator must get off the tractor and disengage the drive manually every time he switches to transport or runs out of liquid at the end of a field. He found the perfect electric clutch on the unload system of the 1482 combine.
“These unload clutches are a complete bolt-on unit and are easy to work with. All I had to do was shorten the existing shaft and have a keyway cut into it. Again, this is overkill, as it’s a 12-inch clutch and a four-inch clutch would probably do, but it should last forever.”
Hallman hired a machine shop to mount the pump drive sprocket to the rear hub. A lower wheel-drive sprocket from an old Massey 665 swather was the right diameter and chain size and in like-new condition.
He bought a new John Blue ground-drive pump to supply the liquid fertilizer to the drill.
“Most factory liquid carts have the filling-transfer pump mounted directly on the cart. We chose to mount the pump on the nurse truck, where it’s safe and clean, rather than being dragged around the field all day in the dust and dirt.”
Hallman built the ladder that leads to the top of the liquid tank from two IHC 1482 combine ladders.
Building the liquid cart was fairly straight forward, but Hallman said he agonized over modifying his hoe drill. He knew the 7200 hoe drill, equipped with Eagle beak openers and aftermarket pressure springs, would penetrate any ground. Plugging with straw was not a big problem; his biggest concern was fertilizer placement.
“Our local liquid fertilizer dealer told me that he wanted the liquid put in the ground right at the opener, but then in the next breath he said if you don’t get enough fertilizer on, I can always rent his dribble bar and broadcast more fertilizer on later. This told me that broadcasting the fertilizer with the drill would probably work,” Hallman said.
“With our drill on seven-inch spacing, the last thing I needed was more hoses and things on the shanks to reduce the clearance further. Another concern was when seeding canola, where we go very shallow and put on lots of fertilizer, we could get liquid running directly into the seed trench, causing germination problems.”
Hallman decided to run his distribution system along the front of the drill and drop his liquid fertilizer directly in front of each opener.
“This system worked well, as the opener splits and covers the liquid as it opens the trench, yet the liquid is close to the seed, but not too close. All our plumbing is up front in the open instead of under the drill causing plugging problems.”
For the booms, Hallman used high-pressure, chemical-resistant plastic pipe that glued together like plumbing pipe. This was marked and drilled where every nozzle had to go and then mounted on the drill.
“It was really easy to work with,” he said.
“Then we welded flat iron to rods that we mounted in front of every opener on the front of the drill. A clear plastic hose runs down from each nozzle and is held on to the rod with plastic ties.”
A liquid fertilizer dealer told Hallman there were three things he needed to know about liquid fertilizer: filter, filter, filter.
“So we filter the liquid as it’s loaded onto the cart, we have a filter between the tank and the distribution pump, it’s filtered again as it enters the boom and again as it goes through the screens on the nozzles. In 2005, we had no trouble whatsoever with plugged
Along with an in-line filter on each boom section where the liquid enters the boom, Hallman installed one pressure gauge for the entire setup.
He said the drill and liquid cart went directly from the shop to the field and worked perfectly, with no adjustments or modifications needed.
“We had the best crop we have had this century, so we will face this spring with total confidence in our new unit.”
The switch from conventional to direct seeding showed clear and immediate benefits.
Hallman said in previous years he had to do his first oil change on the tractor about halfway through seeding.
In 2005, his first oil change was due after spraying was completed.
“We spent about $12,000 building this unit, including labour and an extra parts combine, which isn’t that bad considering the amount of new parts we bought,” he said.
“I estimate that fuel savings alone should pay for this rig in about five years. I hope to recoup the price of the 1482 through the sale of leftover parts, which will further reduce the price of the cart.”