Big, farmer-built planter meets Prairies

Two ranks of planter units are installed on Capricorn Bay’s big drill.  
The company’s planter/drill gets mid-row banding for one pass seeding.  
The seeding units line up every 20 inches 
on two ranks.  | Michael Raine photo

REGINA — Go plant it. Go plant all of it with a big planter.

The Prince family from southwestern Manitoba have been producing corn and soybeans for more than a dozen years, but have never been fully satisfied with their seeding tools.

“(It) could have been more precise. We farm a fair bit of land, so faster is always better. And we grow canola, wheat and the other crops that our neighbours on the Prairies do,” said Frank Prince.

“So we took the speed and precision of a planter and applied (it) to everything,” said the Waskada farmer.


During winter, Frank, brother Billy and their parents committed to a project that began as a drawing on a napkin last fall.

Iowa-made Harvest International Laserpro 1 vacuum planter units were mounted over 60 feet in two ranks, complete with Yetter trash clearing and Precision Planting metering, at Sorensen Welding in Mahnomen, Minnesota. For corn and beans, brush-belt Speed Tubes were added.

“Paul (Sorensen) put it together for us (there are now three different prototype models) that went to work this spring,” said Frank, whose family company Capricorn Bay is selling the machines.

His father, Dave, said when people asked him if they were going to try out the new system this year, he told them they were going to do more than try it out.

“I had to tell them that Billy and Frank planned to seed everything with it. And they did.”

Changing the seed discs in the planter meters enabled the family to move between crops, from corn to canola.

Based on 10 inch spacings for small grains and oilseeds, with a variety of configurations possible, lifting the front units allows for 20 inch corn rows.

Mid-row banders on the front rank provide single-pass seeding, fed by a pull-between liquid caddy. A pull-behind air-seeder cart gets granular inputs into the big planter/drill.

Frank said the machine maintains relatively high rates of speed in the field, but the size of the two-rank, 60 foot toolbar carrying a pair of large carts means there are significant power requirements, as he gestured to a Big Bud tractor attached to the seeder on the grounds at Canada’s Farm Progress Show held in Regina June 20-22.

Dave Prince said that “on hillier land we quickly realized it was time for a new set of tires for the Bud.”

Frank said the unit proved to work well, with all of their crop up and “the best looking we have grown in years.

“We managed to seed canola 2 1/2 inches apart at perfect depth. That’s about 2.5 pounds (of seed) to the acre. The seed savings alone, when you have been seeding four or five pounds, will pay for planter technology,” he said.

The Precision Planter meters also provide individual row variable rate and cut off and turn-rate compensation.

“With the Yetter units clearing the way the seedbeds are amazing.”

The company has been taking orders for the machines for next season and will have the two-rank unit at the Ag In Motion farm show near Saskatoon in July for producers to examine.

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