Disc drill delivers seed at high speed

BRANDON — The Horsch factory in Kansas is making its first production run of Pronto DC high speed disc drills, which are capable of seeding at speeds up to nine m.p.h.

A number of the drills will be available for demonstration in the Canadian Prairies this spring, according to Horsch’s Jeremy Hughes.

“The concept we’re using in the Pronto DC here in North America is the same basic technology we’ve been using in Europe for at least 15 years. But yes, it does seem foreign to North American farmers,” concedes Hughes.

“We’re doing actual tillage across the entire width of the machine. It’s more like our Joker where the tillage up front is the first step in the process. As we pull the Pronto, the coulters work the soil down to a depth of two or three inches. So we want to run fast to get a consistent mellow soil density. We get better sizing of the residue and that gives us quicker biological breakdown for nutrient release. Also, if you spread granular fertilizer up front, it becomes fully incorporated into the soil.

He says customers in Western Canada who received their machines early have told them that the cultivation eliminates the need for a pre-seeding chemical burn off, which means a cost and time savings, as well as an environmental benefit.

He adds that in places like Kansas, where farmers grow winter wheat on winter wheat, the factory installs rippers at the front instead of coulters.

Immediately following the tillage operation, the Pronto DC has tire packers arranged row-by-row in front of each pair of openers. Running the eight-inch wide tires over freshly worked soil packs the surface into an ideal firm seed bed with no ridges or humps. According to Hughes, the smooth surface also helps provide consistent seed placement.

Next come the double disc openers, spaced on 7.5 inch centres supported by rubber torsion mounts. Down pressure is controlled by a rock shaft on hydraulic cylinders. Each opener is independently suspended and is followed by a tire packer.

“Our customers average eight m.p.h., depending on field conditions. If you have a field you’ve worked in the fall so it’s relatively smooth, guys are seeding up to nine m.p.h.

“Now, let’s look at logistics. With a 40-foot wide machine, I can do 40 acres per hour travelling eight m.p.h. If I had previously been doing urea, starter and seed in a 500-bu. cart, I was using most of that cart for fertilizer.

“Now if I put my urea down first, so I take it out of my seeding equation, I can carry more seed. Now I’m competing with a 60-foot or 70-foot hoe drill. Horsepower requirement for the 40-foot Pronto is about 450 h.p., somewhat less than needed for a 70-foot drill.”

He says another benefit is that the Pronto DC doesn’t require constant flow hydraulics.

“You unfold it, set the depth of your blades, set the depth of your openers and that’s it. Look at all the hoe drills out there and you’ll see they require constant flow hydraulics. That takes a lot of power and a lot of hydraulic capacity. We just build up our pressure and we’re set to go.”

Hughes says 40 feet is about the maximum width for this type of drill.

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