Bourgault moved into the planter market with the launch of its Air Planter system that can be used with the company’s PLR opener on the new 3820 coulter drill, as well as the PLS, PLX and PLD openers on its 3330SE and 3335QDA hoe drills.
“I don’t think there are too many other players on the market that would allow you to do planting with a hoe-style opener,” said Robert Fagnou of Bourgault.
The Air Planter system also allows growers to quickly switch from singulation to volumetric metering on the same platform, which Fagnou said will enable farms to have one setup that can perform all of their planting and seeding needs.
The 3820 is Bourgault’s new single disk coulter drill that was developed in parallel with the Air Planter system, and it was designed specifically to switch between volumetric seeding and planting.
Its PLR opener has a special boot designed to accept seed from the electrically driven eXact Placement (XP) meters, and it has a fertilizer knife that allows producers to also use a granular phosphate to go with the seed when planting .
“Other planter systems allow you to use liquid phos for in-band seeding, but that is more expensive than dry phos. Here you can use a dry fertilizer,” Fagnou said.
“That dry fertilizer knife becomes your seed knife if you do want to switch the drill to do volumetric seeding.”
Bourgault’s offering takes a different approach than the high speed planters on the market, with operational speeds similar to its drills that use volumetric metering.
Instead, the company’s approach at efficiency comes through offering a planter that is up to 76 feet wide and has up to a 1,300-bushel commodity tank, for a monster one-pass planting set up.
“You have the fertilizer flexibility with the planter to be able to handle the mid-row banders. That also helps as far as cutting through residue so you don’t have to have it worked and black before you go out to plant,” Fagnou said.
The XP meters in the Air Planter system are fed by a bulk fill system available on Bourgault’s new 9000 series air carts.
Air inductors can be installed on a 9000 series cart on tank one, tank three, the saddle tank, or on all three tanks at the same time.
Fagnou said tank one is the largest tank that growers may want to use for large-seeded crops, whereas they might want to put corn seed in tank three. The saddle tank is most often used for canola.
The Air Planter’s inductor bodies are mounted underneath the metering augers on the air cart, and there is a gate valve that will shut off flow to the inductor when performing volumetric metering.
“If he (farmer) wants to plant then what he would do is shut off the metering auger and open up the gate valve and that would allow seed to flow by the auger and into the inductor body,” Fagnou said.
“You still have your fans running, blowing air through the inductor body. We have baffles to set how much air is going through. Seed is then entrained into the air flow, that starts carrying the seed up through the line into the tower.”
An inductor tower is mounted on the drill, and once its seed reservoir is full, it prevents airflow from the air cart from escaping out the top vent, which will stop delivery of seed from the tank.
There is another fan mounted on the drill that powers another inductor installed underneath the main inductor tower. This inducter essentially does the same thing as the one on the tank, except there are more chambers where it channels the seed.
“This is where it splits off to multiple seed towers over top of our XP meters, and it’s the same idea there again, where seed is carried up and the reservoir is essentially tall columns that will fill up with seed and there is a vent at the top there. Once it fills up it blocks off the air vent. Then it will stop the flow of product from the drill inductor. So again it won’t overflow the line or anything,” Fagnou said.
A seed pool is maintained at the bottom of the XP meters, and when the metering plate goes through, it picks up the seed. There is another fan that creates a positive pressure in the meter that holds the seed to the plate, and once the plate rotates past the singulator that knocks off extra seeds, the singulated seed will reach the seed extractor.
“It’s basically going by a seal. Once it passes by that seal then all of the sudden the air pressure becomes neutral, so the seed essentially falls off the plate,” Fagnou said.
The positive pressure also creates a seed tube airstream to the seed boot, which means the meters don’t have to rely on gravity to drop the seed into the soil.
The Air Planter system is offered in a variety of configurations, with the XP Meters available on 15-inch, 20-inch, and 24-inch spacing.
Fagnou said the seed tube airstream is set at an angle that helps trap the seed at the bottom of the furrow just in front of the PLR opener packing wheel on the 3820 coulter drill.
There are metering plates available for canola, corn and soybeans, which has been the focus of research and development Bourgault has done thus far with the Air Planter system.
“Work with corn has been excellent. We’ve been able to match the results of the leading planters on the market, with our singulators achieving better than 99 percent singulation. We’ve also been getting excellent results with seed spacing on the ground,” Fagnou said.
He said with canola they have been able to maintain a 97 percent average on seed singulation, but keeping the spacing in the soil is hard to achieve because canola seeds have such small mass.
However, he said the jury is still out whether canola needs to have perfect in-the-row spacing like corn, because canola is a much more elastic plant.
“Even if the spacing might not be ideal, you still can achieve your seeds per acre. If you’re trying to dial back your costs and say you were at 425,000 seeds per acre, you want to dial that back to 400,000 seeds per acre, or even 350 or 325. It’s a lot more reliable using a planter system than with a volumetric system,” Fagnou said.