Planting canola by the numbers, one seed at a time

North Dakota farmer had a new planting tool custom built so the farm can seed canola to corn in a single pass with speed and precision

Travis Messer first built a planter that could handle his North Dakota farm’s canola crop in 2015.

“Our farm had been in canola for a number of years and we just knew what planters, with good depth control and precise placement, would be a way to save on some seed costs,” Messer said.

He said retrofitting planters with Precision Planting V-drive meters was common at the time, but he had to start on a new frame because he couldn’t find good used planters to work on.

The first planter build spurred many more, through Plains Grain and Agronomy in North Dakota, where Messer is a precision specialist.

“Over the last probably five, six years here now we’ve probably sold 40 or 50 of them across the state,” Messer said.

“The whole dynamic is changing as guys look for a custom build planter so they can put on the equipment on they want.” Messer said.

He said some air seeders are approaching a million dollars to buy, and that there are benefits custom build planters provide that air seeders can’t.

This winter the company put together a 48-row planter with 15-inch spacing for a farmer in the southwestern North Dakota.

“He can plant all his canola with the planter, lock up the inner plant rows and he can plant corn in at 30 inch, and he can do beans on 15, and sunflowers on 30 or 15 inch. We’re actually getting a lot of guys interested now, and we’ve had several do it, is they’re actually planting small grains with these planters because there’s even a meter for small grains,” Messer said.

However, he said productivity is limited for small grains because of relatively small onboard seed capacity.

The model of the recent build is a PB60-15. It’s on a Harvest International toolbar, with 25-inch Camso tracks, and Harvest International row units that come out of Storm Lake, Iowa.

The tool bar has central fill with CCS tanks on the centre frame that hold up to 110 bushels.

“It also has a 750-gallon liquid tank on the planter for fertilizer, and then it also has a rear hitch to be able to pull a cart as well,” Messer said.

The customer plans to pull a cart with 2,000-gallon capacity, and he also has a 800-gallon tank on the front of his tractor.

The planter is also configured with all the latest equipment from Precision Planting, and other companies, including a Yetter 2967-013A short, narrow floating row cleaner.

Customized hydraulic cylinders were added on each one of the row cleaners to be able to control their pressure from the cab.

“It’s got Precision Planting Delta Force hydraulic down force automated control system row by row. It’s got vSet, the electric drive with the vSet meter and all the crop kits to accommodate those crops,” Messer said.

“It’s actually going to have to three separate liquid products that are all going to be controlled by Precision Planting vApplyHD control system. So all three liquid products or controlled row by row across the planter.”

The planters also have the new FurrowForce closing system by Precision Planting, that is an automated row-by-row control system that has a two-stage closing system.

“It automatically knows how many pounds of weight to keep on that firming wheel to make sure that that furrows get pinched shut, squeezing out the air pockets and then you know managing that soil density to the correct amount to retain that moisture around it,” Messer said.

All the pumps used to transfer liquid fertilizer to the planter are by SureFire Ag Systems.

The price tag on the planter is around US$600,000.

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