Seeder’s reach stretches 160 feet

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.

Multi Farming Systems builds complete machines up to 160 feet wide. This one is fed by a single Simplicity cart. | Multi Farming Systems photo.

Multi Farming Systems builds complete machines up to 160 feet wide. This one is fed by a single Simplicity cart. | Multi Farming Systems photo.

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 air seeder offers an opening coulter as an option. This unit owned by a Montana producer doesn’t have one.  |  Ron Lyseng photo

The air seeder offers an opening coulter as an option. This unit owned by a Montana producer doesn’t have one. | Ron Lyseng photo

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.

The optional coulter is used to clear trash ahead of the shank. The machine is capable of very deep planting, or very shallow, depending on the conditions.   |  Multi Farming Systems photo.

The optional coulter is used to clear trash ahead of the shank. The machine is capable of very deep planting, or very shallow, depending on the conditions.
| Multi Farming Systems photo.

 

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.

In transport, the carts are towed separately, but the seeder folds up to meet road regulations for farm machinery.  |  Multi Farming Systems photos

In transport, the carts are towed separately, but the seeder folds up to meet road regulations for farm machinery. | Multi Farming Systems photos

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.

  • Ron Lewkowicz

    This is such antiquated technology. People have been doing this since steam power. Show me a picture with 200 or 300 or 400 etc. single row solar powered robotic planters all working together on a mesh network planting a field with single row depth precision and single seed accuracy then I’ll be impressed.

    • Charlie

      Ron, farming is big business, if this wasn’t the most efficient and cost effective way to do it they would not use it. They don’t just use big machinery for fun. Just because you think little solar powered robots are cool it doesn’t make them more efficient, effective, or even possible. Remember these are modern diesel tractors that make good use of fuel and pollute as little as possible for the amount of ground they’re covering.

  • Allan

    By the looks of the tree spacing in the picture, he may have to chop one of them down – otherwise the machine may not fit between!! Hmmm. You wonder with a machine that size that you would leave any tree in the fields at all!! Everytime you turn or make a headland you waste seed and energy. (unless every opener turns off and on). Are these trees historic landmarkers?!

    • nolan

      after these fields are harvested at 8 – 10 mph with stripper headers these farmers turn out mobs of merino whethers to graze stubble.The main game down under is ultra-fine wool.10,000 -25000 ewes is normal.temperatures in the mid 40′s are not uncommon and shade is at a premium.get the real story before you go off on my fellow red meat producer.your slash + burn grainfarmer attitude is so short sighted.i hope u r a vegetarian.

  • Confused

    I saw this about a few years ago ,, your info I’d incorrect ,, they had a 160 drill back when they set the world record with Guinness with the 120 foot driil at that time there was a 320 foot proto type driil that was set to go into production in the near future ,, again about few years back , the unique part of the story , the father who set the world record has a mechanical heart , not sure if it was 100 % mechanical or partial ,, but mechanical none the less ,, grain news had the photo if the drill and it was impressive ,, I saw photos of the proto type , now that was amazing 120 ,, not so much seed hawk has had a 84 foot for years and our neighbour has an 86 foot bourgault ,, 320 rocks !!

    • Robin Booker

      I just double checked my notes with Kris Trevilyan and then found news articles for when the seeding record was broken – it was the 120 foot drill that was used. But if you have contradictory information I’d like to see it.

  • http://www.MultiFarmingSystems.com Kris Trevilyan

    Hi Robin, nice article. I have read the comments with interest.
    There is a guy in Australia (one of our Multiplanter customers actually) who is working with one of the universities to develop a robotic seeder. I too would be very interested in the outcome, because I can’t see how small robots would use energy more efficiently. That’s the beauty of technology though, good ideas can always be built on.
    We aren’t allowed to chop those lone trees down in Australia for environmental reasons. They can be a real menace and a real safety concern. I have heard many stories of farmers driving the seeder and even a tractor up a tree. Especially in the middle of the night when the driver might be tired and/or the tree hard to see. Most people keep the seed on when they go around them, that way there isn’t I chance of having gaps in the crop.
    John Coggan has the heart of a young donor, who also donated other organs which saved other people’s lives. Yes, it was his 120ft seeder that holds the Guiness a book of Records record, and yes the 160ft Multiplanter was operational at the same time. We have had plans of the 302ft for years, but that farmer didn’t ever go ahead. My father (David Trevilyan the designer) jokes that we won’t make a machine any bigger than 1km wide. It would only have pull chains like the 302ft (no fixed pull pole), would require TV monitoring because the operator will barely be able to see it because it will be so far away, and remote controlled brakes to ensure it doesn’t run away. Is a seeder that size practical?
    Labour shortages really are so critical in the marginal areas that it isn’t necessarily such a pipe dream. We have a situation we call backpackeritis. Farmers often have to resort to staffing equipment with backpackers during busy times, which often result in all sorts of accidents that most people would think not possible, but are simply the result of unskilled people driving highly technical equipment. The less people required the better, the less downtime required in maintenance and reseeding the more ground will be covered. It’s pure economics.

    • nolan

      those acres will all be grazed after harvest with merino whethers. ultra fine wool is the main game down under+ with temperatures in the mid 40′s common would you cut all your shade trees down and let your animals frazzle and bake? Western canadian farmers are so far behind they think they are first.mainly because of the slash and burn attitude