The volume of product on some air seeding systems can vary up to 30 percent in one run from the volume in neighbouring runs, resulting in a host of agronomic problems.
Irregular fertilizer rates cause crop staging problems that follow right through to harvest and beyond. Unwanted variability in seeding rates can result in expanded crop vulnerability to disease and insects. Excessive fertilizer causes toxicity and lodging. Inadequate fertilizer results in lower yields.
A new pair of technologies from Seed Master can bring those variance numbers down to 10 percent, meaning the rates will actually be only five percent higher or five percent lower than the target rate, says Adam Geres, a technician with the Regina equipment manufacturer.
“A couple years ago we were hunting for a new blockage sensor. We came across a company from Hungary called Digitroll, so we ordered a bunch to try out,” Geres said.
“We hooked them up to the older style towers we were building at the time, and we saw we were out anywhere from 15 to 30 percent from run to run. Until then, nobody had any idea we were out that much.
“Then we went industry wide and tested competitors’ towers and saw everybody had problems with consistency. And that’s when we decided to design a totally different tower. That’s what we call the Tunable Tower. It’s the same tower for seed or granular.”
Geres said the Tunable Tower is based on new manifold technology, and the development would not have been possible without the highly accurate Digitroll sensors. Seed Master buys the sensors from Hungary and renames them the XeedSystem when installed on its drills.
He said the sensors have unprecedented flow detection because they use sophisticated photo sensors capable of counting every seed.
The count in each run shows up as a bar graph on the iPad screen. The system builds an average line in green when everything is clean and running well.
“If there’s even a slight blockage in run three for instance, you’d see the number of seeds going down in that run, and product going up in adjacent runs two and four, he said.
“We put a sensor on every secondary and each sensor has its own LED lights, so you know exactly where to pinpoint a problem.
“This new tower head is quite unique. Whether it’s seed or fertilizer, product usually flows up the backside or the outside of the elbow curve. If the primary is coming from the right side, then the left half of the manifold gets more product. Secondary runs on the left side send more product down the chute. So what we want to do is balance the airflow so product is equally divided.”
Seed Master’s solution is to install a cone in the centre of the chamber with the point facing down into the primary orifice and into the onrushing air and product.
The operator can make slight adjustments to the position of the cone to re-distribute airflow and thus re-distribute product.
If more product goes to the left side, the operator moves the centre point of the cone slightly left. This sends more air and product to the lean side on the right.
Geres said an operator would likely change the centre point for different seeds and fertilizer products. The new manifolds are available with six, seven or eight secondary runs.
“(It’s) easy to change the cone,” Geres said.
“Remove the lid by removing two wing nuts. Maximum amount of adjustment is only 1/4 inch. The XeedSystem is so sensitive that the slightest little adjustment to the cone in the Tunable Tower will show up on the monitor. The two technologies work together.”
The SeedSystem and Tunable Tower technologies were first unveiled in 2016, said Seed Master marketing manager Cory Beaujot, who used early versions of the systems on the family farm last spring and reports that everything worked exactly as expected.
“We’re installing the systems on our Nova Ready toolbars right now, but I wouldn’t say we have it wrapped up in a nice pretty package yet,” he said.
“We expect to eventually have enough experience with the systems so we can provide a prescription that says, ‘if you’re seeing this amount of variance with this product, move the cone so far in that direction.’ We expect to get a lot of informed feedback from producers this summer.”