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Seeding innovations roundup

2016 saw manufacturers introduce several enhancements to their equipment. Here’s a look at the year’s highlights

During 2016, several Prairie-based seeding equipment manufacturers announced new design enhancements to meet customer demand. Here’s a look at the major announcements that will begin production for 2017 model-year machines.

Seed Hawk

Responding to problems reported on the iCon seeding system it introduced in 2014, Saskatchewan-based Seed Hawk — now owned by Swedish manufacturer Vaderstad — has introduced the all-new Fenix III system.

“We experienced a few problems with the metering system we introduced a couple of years ago,” explained Peter Clarke, Seed Hawk president and CEO, during an interview at Canada’s Farm Progress Show in Regina in June. “This update addresses all the issues our farmers identified in the spring of 2015 and 2016.”

To prevent dust and fines from getting into the drive motors, which caused trouble in the previous system, they have now been moved outside of the housing body and have a quick attach system that allows for easy and fast in-field changes.

“This is a larger motor than we had on our iCon system previously,” says Clarke. “This is a 40-watt motor versus our 10-watt system. It sits outside the meter housing, so it addresses issues of contamination that we faced over the past few springs.”

To accommodate moving the electric motors, the meter housing itself needed a redesign. Engineers used that opportunity to make some improvements to the flow of product through them as well. The company claims higher rates of product can now flow more easily through the meter body compared to the 2014 design.

For growers who purchased air carts in the last two years and have experienced trouble with the previous metering system, they will be able to change over to the new Fenix III system.

“The Fenix III system is retrofittable to all iCon systems that are on the market today,” says Clarke. “And the entire system works better than we’ve ever had before.”

The Fenix III system became standard equipment on all Seed Hawk air carts for the 2017 model year.

SeedMaster

SeedMaster president Norbert Beaujot has long been known as a fan of individual row metering. Last summer the company introduced an updated version of its UltraPro metering system, which works on exactly that principle.

“With individual row metering you know that if you put a seed into one end of a 50-foot hose, it’s going to come out of the other end,” Beaujot said. “Whereas on a bulk system, you’re putting a bunch of product through a 2-1/2 inch hose and you hope it divides reasonably at the end. There’s a big difference.”

Designed to provide individual row metering, SeedMaster’s new UltraPro II is a redesign of the original UltraPro system.
photo: Scott Garvey

For about the last six years, the brand’s UltraPro on-frame meter has offered customers an individual-row metering option. Now, the updated version of that system, the UltraPro II, becomes available on 2017 model year drills. The company claims the metering system will offer all the same capabilities as the previous version but with a higher throughput and some updated features. The company wanted to improve upon the original UltraPro design and broaden its ability to handle other granular products, such as innoculants.

“Using that same (metering) concept for other products has been the objective,” said SeedMaster engineer Daniel Michaluk in August. “It has many advantages over our last on-frame metering system. It’s a two-meter setup and both meters feed into a common venturi block.”

“We see this model being fairly attractive to the pulse grower, because we’re handling seed very, very gently and precisely and we’re able to put it down the row very easily,” said Cory Beaujot, marketing and communication manager. “And we’re able to meter granular innoculant into that same air stream in an uncomplicated way to ensure that same seed is getting treated appropriately.”

Along with introducing the UltraPro II, which is designed to be mounted on a drill frame, SeedMaster also unveiled its new “tuneable” distribution towers to mate with the brand’s bulk-metering Nova SmartCarts. The towers work with the company’s XeedSystem flow monitoring system, which provides real-time data on product flow that operators can use to optimize distribution through them.

New “tuneable” distribution towers allow operators to fine-tune product flow to distribution runs.
photo: Scott Garvey

The need to improve flow through distribution towers was identified by research the brand did in its R&D department, said Norbert Beaujot.

Those tests identified problems inherent in the distribution tower concept used by all brands, he said. Put simply, there can be a lot of variation in how much seed goes into one opener run compared to others on the same tower. That led to the creation of the tuneable design.

But because there are so many subtle changes that can cause big variations, adjustable towers are only useful if an operator knows in real time how the flow of product through them is dividing. Adopting the digital XeedSystem flow monitoring technology from Hungarian tech firm Digitroll provides that data to an operator, and pairing those two features made the tuneable towers a viable option the brand now offers on its 2017 model year drills.

If the level of variation through the towers is too high, operators can quickly adjust airflow to match conditions.

“For a number of years now SeedMaster has been seeking out the best product for a blockage detection system,” said research farm manager Owen Kinch. “What we have now is not just a blockage detection system, but a flow monitoring system.”

“It (XeedSystem) actually has the ability to count individual granules to an extremely high level of accuracy — 98 to 99 per cent,” he added. “That’s for any seed from something small in size like canola to something very large like a fababean. What that has done is give us access to some very powerful information, real time, live inside the tractor cab.”

Bourgault

Standing beside the new 80-foot, centre-folding 3420 Paralink hoe drill during Canada’s Farm Progress Show in Regina in June, Bourgault marketing specialist Rob Fagnou noted this was the drill’s first public debut.

“This is what we call the little brother to the 100-foot we released last year,” he said. “The demand for the 80-foot was strong with this type of folding system in a drill. So right away we were in design mode, testing the 80-foot. Really, the design is very similar to the 100-foot. It has the identical fold system and transports at the same size.”

Bourgault has offered a smaller 80-foot drill using its new centre-pivot transport system. It introduced a 100-foot model in 2015.
photo: Scott Garvey

With the centre-fold concept, both wings fold back from a middle pivot, so the drills can squeeze down to just over 18 feet wide and 16 feet tall. Along with the relatively narrow folded width, a steering feature on the back four sets of wheels makes the drill easier to get around narrow field approaches and other tight corners. The operator can adjust their direction through the drill’s X30 controller.

Now, both the 80- and 100-foot drills are available in Bourgault’s QDC and XTA configurations with a choice of either 10- or 12-inch row spacings. They can also be ordered with or without mid-row banders.

“I think that’s what’s unique when you get to this size of a drill, not just the folding, but we sell it with 10- and 12-inch row spacing and with or without mid-row banders,” Fagnou said.

The brand also used the show to introduce a new feature on its 7000 Series air carts.

“We had some demand from farmers who had the saddle tank and wanted to be able to fill it with the conveyor or the auger,” said Fagnou. “Some guys were saying, depending on what they were seeding, sometimes the tank was sitting there not being used. So they were filling it up with wheat, let’s say, adjusting rates and stretching out fill times a little.”

So now saddle tanks on the 7000 Series carts can fill directly from the conveyor.

The saddle tank on 7000 Series Bourgault carts can now be filled with the on-board conveyor.
photo: Scott Garvey

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