Hybrid, 18-inch, disc-hoe opener offers speed with precision

LANGHAM, Sask. — Pillar recently released a cast-steel-constructed opener that’s more rigid and has better trash clearance compared to its previous offering.

The Mark 3 is a double-shoot opener that’s a hybrid between a disc and hoe opener.

“We have a disc that runs up front cutting a deep trench and moving the soil. Then we have a seed boot that comes in behind and makes a seed ledge up and to the side,” said Mike Friesen of Pillar during the Ag In Motion farm show held near Langham.

“So essentially we get the speed and trash-cutting ability of a disc, but we maintain the precision placement of the hoe.”

The 18-inch disc is the main workhorse that opens the soil for the fertilizer row, while the hoe follows the disc and makes a seed ledge with its carbide cutting edge.

“The boot is coming in behind the disc once the disc has done its initial cut, so it’s avoiding the straw even in heavy trash. You’re making a ledge about an inch-and-a-half wide, which is going to be above and the side of your fertilizer,” Friesen said.

The opener also has a liquid starter capability on the seed boot.

“With separation we get between seed and fertilizer, we have farmers putting down their full rate of product. Farmers will put down starter fertilizer down with the seed, and it works well because your seed is spread 1.5 inches wide,” Friesen said.

Each opener follows the ground on its own gauge wheel and the packer wheel is used to gauge depth and close the furrow. Three packer options are available with the opener.

The seed boot is mounted on a rubber membrane.

“What that does is gives the opener shock absorption, so if you hit a rock it’s not going to break the opener,” Friesen said.

Operators can quickly adjust the seed boot to a higher position to account for disc wear, to maintain the separation between seed and fertilizer.

There is a grease point on each disc that must be serviced once per season, while the grease point on the packers need grease every thousand acres.

The openers cast body is more rigid and consistent than the older laser cut and welded opener.

“So going through corners even in hard ground, it’s not going to flex. You’re going to maintain your spacings of the rows even in sharp corners,” Friesen said.

Previous models of Pillar openers have a pull spring on the bottom of the opener, but the Mark 3 has a compression spring on top.

“The biggest reason for that is so that we can adjust the ground pressure simply, and so we have more trash clearance in the front. This opens up the whole front area for the flow of trash. We’ve also made all the settings on the opener a little easier to get at, a little bit more refined,” Friesen said.

The top of the compression spring can be set to three positions to adjust ground pressure.

The Mark 3 opener retails for about $2,500, but they are usually sold as a full unit on a completely outfitted toolbar.

Pillar started producing its current toolbar offering in 2010, but there have been recent updates. The drill can now be outfitted with flotation tires, and centralized greasing is now available. The toolbar is offered in 30, 40, 50 and 60-foot widths.

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