US tillage and seeding manufacturer Kinze Manufacturing has successfully completed seeding trials involving its multi-hybrid Concept Planter.
And it is an idea that is sure to attract attention of broadacre farmers throughout the world.
Six of Kinze's new electric planters were used in the past three months on test plots in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana.
The company says it will put the model into limited production for 2015.
The trials successfully demonstrated automatic on-the-go changing of seed hybrids and seed rates.
Hybrid changes were conducted within a single seed drop, so there were virtually no gaps or overlap when switching from one hybrid to the other.
According to Kinze, multi-hybrid technology provides farmers with the ability to change the seed hybrid they are planting automatically as the planter moves through the paddock.
Instead of selecting an average seed variety for use across an entire paddock, seed hybrids can be selected and automatically planted to suit different management zones, identified by paddock maps.
For example, a salt-tolerant barley variety could be used where identified by a paddock map while the bulk of the barley seed might be a Malt variety that responds to the better soil types in the same paddock.
The concept also could apply to pastures where different grasses could be sown to suit differing soil types.
"The electric multi-hybrid planter will allow farmers to maximise yield in every part of their field and not have to make compromises," Kinze senior product manager Rhett Schildroth said.
According to Mr Schildroth, the electric multi-hybrid concept planter has new row units that incorporate two meters for every row. The meters feed a single seed tube, so the row unit gauge wheels, openers, and closing wheels are identical to a standard Kinze 4000 series row unit.
"This was only possible by using the new electric drive option on the Kinze 4000 series meters," Mr Schildroth said.
"By eliminating the drive chain and clutch, we were able to orient the meters close together so that they feed a single seed tube.
"It is a very elegant way to add the multi-hybrid planting capability.
"Hydraulics worked but it involved hydraulic pumps, drive shafts, and chains going to the meters.
"With all of those parts, it would have been cumbersome to put two meters on one row unit. With electric drive, all that disappears.
"We simply have an electric motor built in each one of our meters, and that enables us to be creative in how we positioned them.
"This is the first planter that has row units designed specifically for planting multiple hybrids.
"All other planters capable of multi-hybrid planting are converted twin-row or split-row planters."
While broadcare cropping in Australia is largely achieved with tined precision seeding bars it is not inconceivable in the future for the whole dynamic of crop establishment to change.
Apart from Kinze's developments, German manufacturer Horsch already has showcased its electrically-driven singulating module which is adaptable to air seeders, eliminating the need for the conventional vacuum-style planters.
So farmers in the future may have the ability to not only singulate seed but also change the variety on-the-go.
p More information: www.kinze.com