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Precise metering can mean big saving on seed

Third-party testing backs SeedMaster's claims of high-performance metering and distribution

Being confident that your product does what you say it will do is a positive place to start, but proving that it is as good as you think is even better. That’s why SeedMaster worked with the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute to test two air seeder configurations and validate their performance claims. The complete PAMI report can be accessed at

“We knew our products were good but wanted to make sure our customers had evidence of just how good they are,” says SeedMaster sales manager Anthony Biglieni. “You can only go so far in telling people about your product before you need to back up your claims. We are fortunate in Western Canada to have an organization like PAMI that uses a trusted set of parameters to reach independent conclusions based on solid data.”

SeedMaster’s internal testing had already showcased low variance from the Ultra Pro II (UPII) and NovaAir Cart systems. SeedMaster worked with PAMI to test and validate both the distribution uniformity and the potential for seed damage across the two air seeder configurations.

The testing was completed in the fall of 2018. PAMI used a 70-foot drill with one season of in-field use to conduct the testing. Collection bags were placed on each 12-inch opener, then product was metered to simulate seeding one to two acres of a crop, depending on the test. After each test, the bags were then removed from the shanks and the collected material weighed.

Wheat, canola, soybeans and peas were tested in order to see how the systems handled the different seed sizes. A few of the crops were also tested at different rates, and fertilizer was added to some of the treatments. In total, 16 product treatments were conducted, 8 per configuration and five of the Nova Cart treatments included fertilizer.

The test results showed low variance across the machine when tested on canola, soybeans, wheat and peas. They also tested the Nova Air Cart with a fertilizer application. The testing showed as low as a 3.2 per cent coefficient of variation with the UPII, and 7.5 per cent with the Nova Cart.


The Nova Air Cart utilizes traditional bulk-metering systems with both tow-between and tow-behind configurations available. While bulk metering is not new to the industry for high-capacity seed and/or fertilizer handling, the Nova Air Cart has some unique features including up to 10 zones and the ability to apply variable rates for up to four products at once. The Nova uses formed piping and even-length hosing, so regardless of the size of the drill, the hoses are of equal length for uniform air flow across the drill. “With the nova there is a lower chance of lack of uniformity in metered product due to path of least resistance, air flow is the same for each run,” says Biglieni.

The UltraPro II has unique on-frame technology for precision individual row metering. A traditional metering system sends the seed upwards of 115 feet from the meter to the opener and relies on distribution towers to separate bulk-metered seed, whereas the UPII sends the seed just 35 feet and never sees a distribution tower. This helps make the UPII more accurate than traditional systems for ensuring rate uniformity across the width of the air drill and better uniformity within the seed row itself. “With the rising cost of quality seed, the UltraPro II was developed to help make seed metering more precise to help save costs, especially for canola growers,” he says.

Biglieni says canola growers face increasing seed costs on today’s high-tech canola seed, so SeedMaster looked for ways they could reduce their seeding rates for an improved return on investment. The traditional seeding rate for canola is five pounds per acre, however because of the accuracy of the UPII, SeedMaster testing has found that growers can reduce their rate by upward of 33 per cent without notable yield impact.

“Canola growers are looking to make the best use of every seed, so they are looking at factors like thousand kernel weight, desired plant population and variable seeding rates based on maps of each acre that they farm,” he says. “If we are trying to be as accurate as possible with our rates, the machinery needs to accurately apply at those rates across the width of the air drill and within each row, which we have proven we can.”


Samples from both systems were collected and sent to a lab to test for germination and vigour before and after being metered. For all of the samples, there was no significant difference between the germination of the control compared to those tested on the two air seeders. The test results showed as low as a zero per cent reduction in germination. “All seed is somewhat fragile and the more you handle it, the bigger the potential impact on germination,” says Biglieni. “Testing showed that with our systems, the handling has no measurable impact on how that seed performs.”

“In the past, seed mortality with canola has been estimated at up to 50 per cent,” he adds. “With our UPII system we believe we can significantly reduce that mortality, which means growers can start to lower the rate in which they seed. Our PAMI test results have provided us with a way to help build growers’ confidence in making these types of changes.”

SeedMaster has been demonstrating the equipment and sharing test results at all the big farm shows across western Canada and in North Dakota and Montana. In presentations, they use a 5,000-acre crop of canola as their example, showing how reducing seeding rates by 33 per cent can save a canola grower up to $99,000 in seed costs, based on the industry average price for canola seed.

“Growers want to make sure that their investment on equipment will give them good results,” says Biglieni. “We are confident that the products work how we say they will, and when you do the math you get a positive return on investment. You get planter-like precision in a true one-pass system that has no restrictions on fertilizer rate, capacity or placement. Our Nova Cart and UltraPro II configuration provides one solution for your seeding needs.”

A full copy of the PAMI report is available at



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