Triple opener designed with location in mind

Triple shoot opener | Precise placement of liquid start-up phosphate, nitrogen blend and row location are vital

Vic Wickstrom said he believed triple shoot openers currently on the market had shortcomings, so he designed a new one.

Wickstrom, owner and chief engineer at VW Manufacturing in Dunmore Alta., developed the VW30PR paired row.

“There’s a whole trainload (of triple shoot openers), but they fail to remember that old saying about location is everything if you want to succeed.”

He said precise locations for liquid start-up phosphate, the nitrogen blend between and slightly below the paired seed rows, and the location of the two seed rows are vital.

“To succeed, you have to get all three components in exactly the correct location once they’re in the soil.”

Wickstrom said research shows the importance of singulation is not exclusive to corn. It’s important in all crops, even wheat.

“It’s very important in small seed crops. Think about what a single wheat plant looks like when it gets away to be on its own with plenty of room to grow,” he said.

“The darned thing turns itself into a bouquet. It becomes huge, with tons of tillers, heads and kernels. That’s why uniform seed distribution is so important in all crops. It gives each plant the optimal amount of space to reach its full potential.”

Wickstrom think his new VW30PR is just about as close to corn-caliber uniformity as anyone can get with an air drill. He said it works as well with small seeded crops as it does with large seeds. The seeds are not spread out across the width of the openings but end up in a narrow straight line.

“When we stop and dig into the seed trench with a knife, they’re all lined up like little beer bottles in a row. There’s no clumps or bunches of seeds and no empty gaps,” he said.

Many people think singulation with a drill depends on the air delivery system, manifolds, seed runs and the boot, but that’s not the whole story, said Wickstrom, who has been designing, manufacturing and marketing openers for 30 years.

“A seed comes blasting down the line, down the front tube of our boot. But the question of why it ends up where it does in the soil depends on what happens when it goes through the opener. It’s all about location,” he said.

He said the VW30 has a raised ramp on the middle of the floor in its chamber. It splits the seeds equally — one group for the left seed row and one group for the right seed row.

“The ramp sends the seeds right out to the walls of the chamber, and they remain tight against the walls until they exit the opener. That’s how we get such a straight, narrow line of seeds. They never get blasted helter skelter like birdshot from a shotgun.”

He said the two seed rows are almost exactly 2 ½ inches apart. Each seed is one inch off to the side of and 3/8 inch above the nitrogen band that runs down the middle.

The bottom side of the opener has a heel that rises 3/8 inch from the flat surface. It cuts a groove so that the nitrogen fertilizer blend coming down the rear pipe ends up located midway between the seed rows and 3/8 inch below the seed rows.

“That’s not a whole lot deeper than the seed, but remember at one time, in days gone there was a belief that nitrogen had to be buried all the way down to China. That has finally been proven false in most people’s eyes.

“But now some people say seed and nitrogen fertilizer can be on the same plane. So I decided 3/8 inch below the seed level and one inch from the seed row is the best location.”

The two blue plastic tubes for liquid startup fertilizer line up with the seed rows. Wickstrom said he is considering the possibility of running high-pressure anhydrous down the rear fertilizer tube.

The opener body is made of 28 percent industry-standard chrome steel. All the applied, hard-surface plates welded to the body are carbide, including a carbide plate at each rear corner so the body doesn’t wear into a canoe-shape.

“We have carbide plates at every wear point so the opener always maintains its original shape,” he said.

“It’s basically an expanded version of the VW11FC opener that seeds millions of acres around the world every year, so we use the same steel and carbide that works on the VW11FC.”

The flat bottom side of the opener has an unusual hollow recess shaped like the front of a traditional church building.

Wickstrom said it’s purely cosmetic. Material isn’t needed in that area so they made the recess to save the cost and weight of the 28 percent chrome steel.

The same VW30PR paired row opener fits all paralink, C-shank and Edge-On drills sold on the Prairies. VW Manufacturing simply makes different boots for each model.

For more information, contact Wickstrom at 403-528-3350 or visit www.vwmfg.com.

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