THE push for productivity in broadacre cropping is growing at an inexorable rate.
It's happening on all fronts as demands for cost efficiencies are magnified in the face of increasing cost pressures.
So it's no surprise to hear from McIntosh & Son Katanning branch manager Devon Gilmour that 80 per cent of inquiries for precision seeders this year have been for bars with working widths between 21.3 metres and 27.3m (70-90ft).
"Five years ago the demand had swung away from 40 footers (12.2m) to bars with working widths between 50 foot and 60 foot (15.2-18.2m)," Devon said. "And now we're selling 70ft bars in districts like Kojonup.
"The main reason is that guys want to complete crop programs within the optimum sowing window to set up yield potential and if they have the gear, they can get it done in the time required.
"Even if it's a later break, they can get more sowing done within the window than they might have been able to do with smaller gear."
It's precisely the reason why the Connemara farm operation at Varley plumped for two 27.3m and one 21.3m Morris Contour II seeding drills.
Added to the shopping list for the farm's 32,000ha crop program were three New Holland T9.670 4WD tractors on triples and three Morris XL 8650 air seeders on duals.
According to a Connemara representative, this season reflects the need to get crop in and up quickly.
"It's almost the ideal early sowing window to set up good yield potential," he said. "We've got good subsoil moisture which is almost full profile so we were able to start on April 18 and we hope to finish the program by the end of May.
"The big rigs are doing about 24 hectares an hour which is why we can get the job done so quick.
"Now we've got to hope the growing season is kind to us."
Going wider can buy problems but according to Devon, Morris research and development has overcome what are still live issues for some farmers with wide bars.
"A big bar poses a few problems, particularly related to fold and hose kink and transport height and width," Devon said. "There are also power requirements to pull the bars and also maintain precision seeding.
"What Morris has done has eliminated these problems and many farmers are finding they can upgrade from say a Morris 60 footer to an 80 footer without the need of a new tractor.
"And because of the design, you don't need a police escort or Western Power staff for transport.
"Importantly the company has achieved all this without adding to costs and we believe the Morris bar is the most competitively-priced precision seeder on the market, priced significantly cheaper than an equivalent-sized competitor."
The slab design of the Morris Contour II, with wheels outside the frame and contour-following achieved by the individual sowing modules, is a big appeal along with an easy to adjust set-and-forget depth control system.
The hydraulically-operated individual parallelogram linkage and press wheel units ensure an almost millipede action across contours and this ground-hugging is the reason why press wheels can accurately control seed depth placement.
According to Morris, the parallelogram linkage maintains a constant opener angle relative to the soil and constant opener depth in relation to the packer wheel throughout the range of travel.
The company says its double shoot boot requires less horsepower while the single shank design has lower draft requirements than most double-shoot air hoe drills and disc drills.
Also the single shank system doesn't have the bunching up problem between two tines.
The double shoot boot is used to place fertiliser and seed in a paired row configuration. In-line seed placement is achieved by using specific in-line boots.
Seed is placed first, 3.8cm (1.4in) to each side and the fertiliser is placed 2cm (0.7in) below and down the middle row.
Digging depth is from 2cm (0.7in) to 8.3cm (3.5in) hence the low draft requirements.
Pressure is maintained on the opener cylinders through the use of a hydraulic accumulator system with adjustable down force pressures from 45.3kg to 226.8kg. The opener packing force can be increased proportionally from 31.7kg to a maximum 77.1kg.
Depth setting is accomplished by a simple notched cam and pin system - simply rotate the cam by hand and insert the pin to lock in the desired seeding depth. Optimal seeding depth ranges from 1.27cm (0.5in) to 5cm (2in) in 0.64cm (0.25in) increments.
The packer wheels are about 14cm (5.5in) in diameter to accommodate the paired row and the subsequent furrow promotes water harvesting while protecting germination plants from wind events.
More consistent furrows can be achieved with the on-the-go packing pressure which is handy to use in differing soil types. And tine pressure also can be adjusted on-the-go.