DRY early conditions across many Australian graingrowing regions in recent seasons has highlighted the benefits of press wheels for moisture conservation, which, in turn, has resulted in increased sales of press wheel kits.
Ezee-On (Australia) general manager Stephen Brown said the company sold a record number of press wheel units leading into the 2002 season, and they were again dominating early equipment orders from farmers for 2003.
"Crops sown with press wheels have performed better during the dry starts to recent seasons, and this is creating strong demand for them,'' Mr Brown said.
"All our early order enquiries and sales in WA and in eastern states have been for press wheels.''
Narrogin farmer Don Alexander opted for press wheels when he upgraded from a 28-run combine to a complete Ezee-On air seeding system for this season.
Mr Alexander has sown 810 hectares (2000 acres) to wheat, barley, oats and lupins with the new system on the family's 2430ha (6000ac) property this season.
He said the press wheels, following the knife points on the cultivator, provided better seed-to-soil contact and effective moisture harvesting despite the dry conditions.
"Crop germination and establishment has been really good, and the press wheels have certainly played a major role in that,'' Mr Alexander said.
He said these crop benefits from the press wheels also enabled some crops to be sown slightly earlier than normal.
The Alexander's new sowing unit also offered much greater trash clearance than their former combine, and the use of press wheels rather than the previous finger tine harrows as the following tool has allowed straw to pass straight through the system.