FARGO, N.D. — Farmers attend farm shows to see what’s truly new, innovative and of benefit to them, such as the Australian-built spring steel coil closing wheels and gauge wheels that shed mud.
Australian farmers set their autosteer to go in a straight line and then take a nap, or so the story goes. Straight line farming often takes them through a variety of soil conditions. Stopping at each change to make adjustments is out of the question, which is why Australian farmers need soil-working tools appropriate for all conditions.
Although these tools might not be perfect for any one condition, they are an acceptable compromise for the wide range of situations, according to Pat Reinhard of PolyTech, which is the North American company that imports the RFM Auspoint Coil Closing and Gauge wheel.
“When they hit clay or a wet spot, Australian farmers continue seeding right through it. The idea behind the springy coil is it doesn’t plug with mud. It gives pretty uniform closing and depth control in all conditions,” said Reinhard.
“The coils vibrate and flex to shake off the mud and throw out any other material that might try to get caught. No-till farmers like it because it eliminates all those rubber tires. You can waste a lot of time and money replacing rubber tires on your seeding rig. Some guys go through a lot of tires in a season.
“In sandy conditions, it closes up the seed trench and leaves a nice pinch point. Going through the in-between soils, the spring pinches the seed tight but then it leaves looser soil cover over the top so you don’t get cracking. The coils are to help give the planter a softer ride.”
Reinhard said the opener remains the same. The coils only replace the closing wheel and the gauge wheel. The first shipment of closers arrived three years ago. The first shipment of gauge wheels arrived in 2017, but PolyTech decided the wire coil was heavier than it wanted. The first shipment of the lighter version gauge wheels arrived this summer.
“There are probably 20 or more people in the market right now with various kinds of closing wheels and gauge wheels, trying to address the problems. From what I’ve seen of them, I think we have the simplest idea, the most foolproof. Right now, we’re bringing in coils for Deere, Kinze and the other bolt-on type of closing wheels. To get the full advantage, it makes sense to install the closing wheels and the gauge wheels.
“We’ve only allowed a small number of sets to be sold so far. Most of what we receive we use ourselves for testing around the country, plus right here in North Dakota and Minnesota. We don’t want to bring in a whole container until we’ve done enough testing to be sure there’s no hidden issues.
“The closing wheels we have on display here at Big Iron have 8,000 acres testing from over in Australia, and they’ve shown no sign of breaking or losing their spring tension. In Australia, they’ve installed the coils on every make of seeder or planter we have here in North America.”
The coils list for US$260 for the rear gauge wheel and $530 for the pair of front closing wheels.