Plumbing crop establishment

25 May, 2014 01:00 AM
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WHEN your cropping program comprises 68,000ha (168,316ac) of wheat there is one thing you want to get right.

And that's seeding depth.

It's the reason Bullfinch farmer John Nicoletti now has 10 Ausplow DBS seeding units, with six of them linked to Ausplow Multistream airseeders.

Nine of the DBS bars are a mix of D260-70 (18.2m, 60ft) and D300-61 (18.3m, 60ft) while one is the latest W325-75 (24.4m, 80ft) model. All are equipped with 17.5cm (7in) knife blades set on 30cm (12in) spacings, with the exception of the D260-70 models with modules spaced at 25cm (10in).

According to Mr Nicoletti, with the exception of the new W325-75, the bars establish 16 hectares an hour at 9km/h. The W325-75 completes 24ha in an hour.

Mr Nicoletti, who also owns DBS outlet Ag Implements, bought his first DBS in 2009.

"It's just a very well built machine and it's a precision seeder," Mr Nicoletti said. "Depth control is easy and once you set the doughnuts (depth control collars) you don't have any worries.

"The on-the-go hydraulic control means even in tough, dry conditions, you can still put the seed where you want it with some measure of till underneath the seed.

"We've tried every machine on the market and the DBS is the best one yet.

"It's also very user-friendly which is what you want when you're employing casual staff.

"The other bonus of the DBS is the water harvesting and the min-rip.

"If you get seed in at the right depth and any moisture that is captured is beneficial, particularly in years when the rain doesn't come like in recent years.

"The mini-rip is also beneficial to improving soil structure because plant roots can get down deeper and in some circumstances, capillary action can bring moisture to the surface to wet up seed beds."

This is the essence of the DBS, which originally was called the Deep Blade System when inventor and Ausplow owner John Ryan revealed it to the market in the mid-1990s.

In the past few years Mr Nicoletti has also bought Ausplow Multistream M18000 tow between airseeders, including one with an engine drive.

This season, along with the DBS W325-75 and another DBS D300-61, he added a Multistream M22000 tow between with engine drive to his seeding stable.

"The wider bars give you more flexibility to play the season because we know we can get a crop in quickly, whether we're sowing dry or wet," Mr Nicoletti said.

But while the mechanical aspect of precision seeding is easily understood, air delivery carrying the seed to the seeding boot is often an ignored subject.

Hence the engine drive on bigger capacity Multistreams, that can produce the required volume of air to carry seed to the extremities of wider bars.

The Multistream was the world's first integrated granular and liquid delivery system when it was introduced to the market in 2003.

The heavy duty polyethylene tanks are mounted on a double box section chassis and boast Ausplow-designed stainless steel lids for easy opening and quick locking. A hydraulically-operated swingaway auger provides easy filling of the tanks.

Standard camlock fittings are used on the fill and empty lines together with an outlet for dispensing liquid for calibration.

A high volume turbo fan operates on a hydramotor while the fan inlet is supplied air, heated by an oil radiator with an independent relief valve enabling oil to be returned to the tractor.

The common comment from owners is that the Multistream is built strong, is easy to use and the metering is accurate from canola to cereals.

And if you're not into liquids at the moment, the extra bin can be filled with either seed or fertiliser to stay in the paddock longer.

The Multistream controllers are now able to interface with Trimble FM 1000 and John Deere 2630 tractor monitors apart from the standard Topcon X20.

Mr Ryan's world-patented idea in developing the DBS was to provide a pot plant environment at seeding to enhance yield potential while at the same time breaking through shallow compaction layers to allow air, moisture and plant roots to penetrate into the subsoil.

Subsequent oxidation at depth is beneficial to microbial activity and building of soil humus.

According to Mr Ryan, using the DBS as a tool to assist in ameliorating the soil allows the process to start or continue while you create the opportunity for a quicker profitable return.

"It can take years to get soil back into a good productive state," he said. "The long time can be a deterrent to doing anything with the soil but I designed the DBS so you can still make money while the process is going on."

According to Mr Ryan, crop establishment systems have improved enormously over the past two decades off the back of farmer experiences with direct drilling and no-till.

"What farmers are discovering, is it's not the machine, per se, that is the key to producing a good crop," he said. "The old adage that 95 per cent of the equation is water still holds true but there needs to be a good soil environment to capitalise on that moisture.

"Plant roots help to improve soil structure and later decay, feeding soil bacteria.

"We've learnt to retain stubble, handle weeds, stop the blow and the run-off, now I think the focus is on understanding what's below."

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Ken Wilson

Ken Wilson

is Farm Weekly's machinery writer

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