Corn planter effective in precision canola seeding

A corn planter places canola seed more accurately than does an air drill, according to producers who have tried it.

“The accurate seed placement of a planter is the big factor. That’s what makes this whole idea potentially viable,” says Andrew Dalgarno, a canola grower from Newdale, Man.

“There was a lot of talk last winter about guys sowing canola with a corn planter. They were cutting way back on their seeding rate and still getting an acceptable stand, so we decided to try it this year.”

Dalgarno, a partner in Pen-Dale Farms Ltd., conducted trials comparing a John Deere 7300 vacuum planter on 22 inch spacings to a Bourgault 5710 and a Seed Hawk.

He also conducted six trials on soybeans and grain corn.

Dalgarno compiles a Post-Harvest Report every fall that he sends to those who toured his plots during the summer or expressed interest in his trials. The following information is extracted from his 2012 report.

He said he was interested in seeing how an independent opener machine would work on a heavily tilled field. He also wanted to test the use of a vacuum planter on canola.

The field was too wet to seed in 2011 so it ended up as chemfallow. In late summer, a Salford RTS was used to dry out the soil, chop the weeds and provide light tillage.

He noticed during the fall anhydrous ammonia application and the spring pre-seed burn off and seeding that the RTS had left the field smooth with an almost ideal seedbed.

Anhydrous ammonia was applied in the fall at 57 pounds of nitrogen per acre, while a phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen blend of fertilizer was banded in the spring before seeding. Soil test results indicated a blend of 36 lb. per acre of phosphorus, 19 lb. per acre of potassium and 22 lb. per acre of sulfur. This also produced an additional 27 lb per acre of nitrogen.

A pre-seed burnoff of Cleanstart was used because Roundup Ready canola had previously been planted on the field.

The Bourgault and Seed Hawk plots were seeded May 17 and the John Deere vacuum planter plots were planted May 21. Soil temperatures were 18 to 20 C. Target depth for all plots was three-quarters of an inch. Speed was four m.p.h.

Emergence on the Seed Hawk plots was excellent.

Dalgarno said the Seed Hawk at three to four lb. seed per acre seemed to be similar in timing to the Bour-gault at five lb. per acre.

The Seed Hawk plots with the lighter seeding rates required more time to branch out to fill in the space in the field before flowering began.

The John Deere planter plots seemed to be slightly behind the other plots throughout the growing season.

However, he said this might be because of the four day delay in planting and the fact that the rest of the plots received six millimetres of rain May 19.

The swather operator reported that the Seed Hawk plots at five and six lb. per acre swathed easier. The plants were well knitted together and stood up well. The low rates of two and three lb. per acre were harder to swath.

Extreme winds Sept. 11-12 blew the swaths quite a bit. Delgarno said this was the first time he had ever seen a canola swath hanging off a power line.

However, he was still able to get a reasonable set of results.

A generally downward progression in the Seed Hawk plots were seen, where the highest seeding rate produced the highest yield.

Delgarno expected to see better results from the John Deere planter, although this may be because the others receiving a timely spring rain.

Plans are underway to expand the trial for next year, with a seeding demo day set for June 5.

For further information, contact Dalgarno at 204-849-2040 or email at

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