Individual shank conversion system

The Orange Shank is designed to allow farmers to convert their drills to an independent system. |  John Gehrer photo

Manitoba farmer and inventor wanted an air seeder that provided row by row depth control

John and Angelica Gehrer have turned their attention to air seeders.

The farming couple from Niverville, Man., who made a name for themselves with their grain auger spout systems, wanted an air seeder with individual shanks that followed the contours of the field and provided row by row depth control.

“Precision seeders treat every row independently, and you pay for that. I thought it could be done in a more affordable way,” he said.

Called Orange Shank, the Gehrers built a prototype that was initially green to match the couple’s Concord air seeder and mounted on the couple’s traditional frame with C-shanks.

The Orange Shank was used to plant canola, soybean and oats in its first year.

“The results looked good, so we converted the whole (tool bar) to the independent shank system and last fall seeded winter wheat and winter canola,” he said.

The shank system uses rubber blocks in the mount, the way several European vertical tillage tools do. The drill frame’s pressure from the lift control provides the energy that creates tension on the trailing arms. Clamps mount the drill-type shanks to the tool bar, with the rubber blocks coming under tension as the frame is lowered.

The packer wheel and the end of the trailing arm acts a gauge wheel, allowing the independent shank to move vertically in the soil, while maintaining seeding depth.

A traditional C-shank is cut off and clamped into the trailing arm frame and provides opener mounting and seeding depth control.

Packer wheel mounts are adjustable through a variety of mounting holes, as are the trailing arms where the units meet the seeder’s frame at the torsion clamps.

An optional fertilizer coulter is available and mounts to the independent arm system.

The Gehrers are offering 30 of the shanks to other farmers to mount on their seeders in western Canada and the Great Plains.

“We want to see how they work in a variety of conditions and we are hoping that some other farmers might want to help us out and see too,” said John.

“For the spring of 2015, we want to replicate our research. Farmers with a solid frame air drill that are willing to remove one shank and replace it with an Orange Shank can do this research with us.

“When installing an Orange Shank, no welding is needed, nor does the hydraulic system need modifications. The existing packer does not have to be removed. Their existing opener has to be bolted onto the Orange Shank.

“This type of research has will give us information over a very large area, many soil types, many climatic conditions and different crops. If a farmer cannot make the system work, within half an hour they can remove it and install the old shank again.

In return, we ask for a small report on how the system worked or didn’t, as well as some suggestions on how to improve it.”

For more information, call 866-860-6086 or email

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