Multi Farming Systems | Company has used large equipment to seed more than 2,000 acres in a day
My jaw dropped a little when a picture of a Multi Farming Systems seeder showed up on my twitter feed. I’ve seen some big seeders roaming the Canadian countryside, but nothing that stretched out like this Australian rig.
Multi Farming Systems already holds a world seeding record for seeding 2,237 acres in 24 hours, and that was with the little guy: the 120 foot seeder.
The company now sells a fully equipped 160 foot seeder, which the company calls a multi-planter, and has produced a 212 foot frame for a farmer, who tooled it up with his own hardware.
I retweeted the photo, which had only one air cart behind the drill, and immediately a producer had concerns: how can you push product to that wide of a frame? How much air capacity does the cart need? How about hydraulic power requirements?
Company representative Kris Trevilyan said producers have run the seeder at 15 km-h, but that seeding speed is limited by application rates.
“When we get really wide, none of the air carts can service the whole thing, so what farmers do is they put two carts on,” she said.
“First because one cart only has to service half the machine so they don’t have to push so much product out over such a great distance.”
Pushing from two air carts is not new to North America farmers: many use two in tandem. However, running two air carts, as well as frame hydraulics, does require modern tractors equipped with high capacity hydraulics.
“We say to people, allocate about four horsepower per tine (shank) when you’re working the soil a normal four centimetres (1.5 inches) deep,” she said.
“If you want to go really deep, some people are going down to nine inches and ridiculous depths, allocate about six h.p. per tine.”
Australian dry land planting can use the corduroy style seed bed with high ridges and deep furrows to help channel moisture toward the row. Using no less than 12 inch row spacing and two inch openers reduces the draw on the tractor, even when they have to dig deep to find moisture.
“It’s a specialist no-till planter and it can sow the seed at whatever depth you choose to sow it, but still only putting about a match box worth of soil over the seed,” Trevilyan said.
“If a farmer wants to go quite deep, the deepest I’m aware of is about nine inches. You don’t want that much soil over the top of the seed, so it actually throws the soil out so it’s creating a water harvesting trench.”
The press wheel acts as a depth gauge for the shank and application tube assembly to ensure consistent placement of seed and fertilizer. Multiple application chutes can be added to the assembly. The seeder can be fitted with a variety of sizes of packers, chisel points and sweeps.
A disc coulter can be mounted in front of the shanks to cut through weeds and crop residue, such as melon vines on Australian fields that can ball up and plug seeders.
Each parallelogram-design shank assembly has a hydraulic cylinder to maintain seeding depth and packing pressure, independent of the frame. The downward pressure applied to the openers is monitored by a pressure gauge that can be mounted in or out of the cab. Pressure to the packers can be adjusted from the cab as soil conditions change.
“This helps because you’re using a lot less horsepower because you’re not ripping the guts out of the paddock when going over a counter bank. But you’re also not skimming over the hollows,” Trevilyan said.
“We recommend 50 pounds pressure. If you’re getting into really tight country, the tine might need more to dig, so you might need more like 300 lb. pressure.”
The seeder can be hydraulically steered when working and be equipped with a GPS and autosteer for inter row seeding, in addition to the autosteer in the tractor.
For transport, the seeder is end-towed and has a width of 5.5 metres. The operator can steer the seeder with hydraulics when it’s in tow position to help navigate through narrow terrain.
Trevilyan said it takes about an hour to switch the seeder to transport mode once the producer gets used to doing it. Taking the air cart off is the most time consuming task.
“The pull pole that goes to the tractor, it rolls around and attaches to the side,” Trevilyan said.
“Then you unpin the real wheels and you fold the rear tines around so they don’t hit the rear wheels and they don’t stick out. Then you just take the tractor around.”
Producers in some Australian agriculture zones don’t have to squeeze seeders onto busy highways, so the company designed the seeder so that the air carts don’t have to be unhooked for transport. They can be pulled along side the seeder when it’s being end-towed to the next field.
The straight forward design of the seeder makes it easy to maintain, with standardized parts that can be found without difficulty.
“As much as possible, we are not in the business of spare parts,” she said.
“We want to build an absolutely brilliant machine.
Apart from a few consumables like the tips and the press wheels that run on the ground, and replacing seals and rams, as much as possible we want them to be able to look after it themselves.”
For more information, visit multifarmingsystems.com.au.