It was a challenge, but engineers have come up with a way to shut off one section on a Class A air distribution system without giving the other sections an extra blast.
Bourgault recently launched its new Automatic Section Control (ASC) product delivery system, which the company says is the first of its kind.
The main reason for developing the new system was to maintain a balanced airflow from one section to the other as some sections turned off and on.
Seeding systems that provide sectional control have been in the marketplace for years, but the company from St. Brieux, Sask., developed its approach based on keeping the air and product flows stable no matter what is on or off.
Bourgault said it was inspired by “tramlining kits common in Europe and Australia, where individual runs can be either diverted or turned on and off.”
Those systems blocked multiple runs at the same time, but Bourgault’s system allows “clean air” to continue to flow to sections that are off.
This serves to purge product from a run once it is turned off and maintain balanced airflow to the remaining runs.
Bourgault marketing specialist Rob Fagnou said ASC is not the same as existing section control systems.
“This is the first section control on an A Class distribution system we know of,” he said.
“The system is installed on the primary distribution line that comes from the air seeder (product cart). By providing sectional control when moving into seeded areas, it accomplishes the same thing as section control from all the other companies. It’s doing pretty much the same thing as the others.”
Fagnou said ASC maintains an air balance from section to section by releasing air flow on the sections that are shut off.
He said the controller stops product flow when it shuts off one section, but it can’t shut off the air flow because that would send the extra air blasting to the other sections. Section control systems need to keep the same volume of air moving through all the lines all the time.
“That was our biggest challenge. We had to design it so it diverts what we call ‘clean air’ instantly back into the line where we shut off the product,” he said.
“Even though the product is shut off, we keep the same amount of air flowing down the line so we don’t get a sudden surge down the other lines. The ASC valve is located right at the primary manifolds. It’s a hydraulically operated gate style valve. We tried air, but that was too slow, and air doesn’t have as much power to close the gate as hydraulics.”
The valve diverts clean air flow to the opener even when it’s closed to product, which flushes out residual seed or fertilizer as soon as the section is shut off.
The ASC system is controlled by the Topcon monitor, which does not raise the openers on sections that shut off. This prevents the skewing that creates unbalanced drag when some sections are raised and others remain in the soil.
“The X30 controller includes a headland management feature, which allows the farmer with a pre-existing shape file of the field to select the number of headlands he wants,” Fagnou said.
“He seeds the centre first, then seeds the headlands last to minimize travelling through seeded ground.”
Most existing 7000 air seeders are being retrofitted with ASC before seeding begins this spring.