News 2014

High-speed air seeding - Ten days to define your harvest!

18/09/2014 High-speed air seeding - Ten days to define your harvest!

“Whether you plant in the autumn or spring, there is typically only a ten-day window to get the precious seed into the ground – you have to act fast and accurately,” says Cameron McKenzie, Seeding & Tillage Manager for the farm equipment brand, Challenger. “Indeed, within that crucial 10 days, there is the absolute optimum day when everything comes together to create the foundations for the best possible outcome for the harvest.”

“With speed of planting critical, the latest small-grain air drills are the quickest way to cover the hectares while at the same time ensure precise seeding in either conventional or conservation tillage practices,” Cameron explains.

Good crop management means reducing as many risks as possible.  Timely planting rests on the days available to plant balanced with farm size. Operating larger equipment or moving at faster forward speeds can increase the productivity of the planting process. The objective is lowest cost of planting where investment in inputs (equipment/labour/seeds/chemicals) creates maximum yields whilst still working within the constraints of the planting window.

For successful seed germination, the ‘big three’ when it comes to planting management are adequate moisture, adequate temperature and adequate oxygen.

The correct moisture level is the key factor under your control. In dry soil, germination will simply not take place. In less than optimal moisture conditions, germination and emergence will be slow and uneven. 

As for temperature, the chief crop management decision is seeding date. All crops will germinate more quickly in warm, moist soils. With deeper sowing, the seed is brought into a progressively cooler environment. Shallower sowing provides the warmest environment for germination. 

Waterlogged soils are the main barrier to adequate oxygen levels and must be avoided at planting time.

Good seed-to-soil contact is necessary to ensure the seed has enough access to moisture to germinate quickly. Loose, cloddy seedbeds are peppered with air pockets that dry out the soil. Good soil closure (packing) around the seed helps minimise air pockets and maximise seed-to soil contact.

“Taking all these factors into account especially when seeding large-scale areas, high-productivity seeding is a must,” continues Cameron.

“As the name implies, air seeders use a flow of air to distribute and deliver the seed into the soil. The pneumatic technique enables the seeders to be built to much greater widths – up to 18m - than conventional mechanical drills which are generally limited to 3m-6m widths. Despite their size, air seeders can be folded to narrower widths for convenient transport and roadwork. Typically, an air seeder is matched with an air cart which is trailed behind the drill. Air carts can hold many tonnes of seed and fertiliser, and deliver these commodities to
the drill via an air distribution system.”

Renowned for its top quality farm machinery for today’s large-scale farming, Challenger offers two high-capacity, high-speed air seeders – the 9700 and 9800 Series - for drilling small grains such as wheat, barley, oil-seed rape, sunflower and soyabeans. The Challenger 9900 Air Cart perfectly complements the two air seeders.

Designed and built in the North Dakota in the United States, these big, rugged air seeders are well-proven on the wide open plains of North America and Australia - conditions which mirror the broadacre farming environment of Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.

The Challenger 9700 Air Till Drill utilises a shank opener to deliver the seed into the soil and is ideal for low rainfall, no-till/min-till, one-pass conditions. Suitable for use with tractors from 360-460hp, five models are available in widths from 12m to 18m. The 9700 offers the exclusive ‘ribbon seeding’ technology which plants a 14 cm band of seed, leaving just 11.5 cm between rows. This allows maximum seedbed utilisation with a packed row. As a result, the plants produced  have a much stronger stem, superior roots and thus maximum yields.

Flexible fertiliser placement is also a key feature of the Challenger 9700. Fertiliser can be placed with the seed in a 14 cm seed and fertiliser ribbon. Alternatively, you can place a portion of the fertiliser in the seed ribbons and place the remainder safely below the seed or off to the side.

With its heavyweight design (up to 16,556 kg) and wide soil-packing wheels, the Challenger 9700 provides the best chance of seed-to-soil contact, and hence uniform emergence of seedlings.   

Equally at home in no-till, min-till or conventional till condition, the Challenger 9800 single disc drill matches tractors from 210-540 hp and utilises patented opposing single- discs to open the soil. Available in five models with widths from 9.10m to 18.30m, this drill is exceptionally quick and appears to have no speed limit! However, optimum performance is around the 7-10 mph (11-16 km/h) range. Due to the rolling action of the discs, the 9800 works extremely well in high-residue conditions.

Down pressure adjustment on the openers from the tractor cab eliminates the need for opener adjustments. Unlike some other single-disc designs in no-till situations, side-wall compaction on the seed furrow and hair-pinning do not occur with the Challenger 9800. Hair-pinning is where the straw or residue is not cleanly cut but pushed into the ground next to the seed, thereby inhibiting growth. The 9800 does not have a gauge wheel running next to the disc which means the soil can lift and flow back against the packer to be re-levelled over the seed furrow.

ISOBUS-compliant, the Challenger 9900 Air Cart comes in a choice of three models configured in two or three sections and with tank capacities of 9866 litres, 11,805 litres and 18,500 litres. The virtually maintenance-free seed meters will gently handle and accurately deliver all types of seed and any type of granular fertiliser. Made from durable stainless steel to last a lifetime, the 9900 is highly versatile and can also be used for other applications – for example, behind a planter or with a strip-till rig.

“Challenger’s air seeders and air carts protect growers’ investments at this critical point in the season, providing maximum growth potential and subsequent yield, no matter how short the planting window,” concludes Cameron McKenzie.

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