Achieving accurate seed placement and an ideal seedbed in deep light soils has been a challenge for south-eastern Wheatbelt grower Joe Varone.
But upgrading to one of the latest precision bars that automatically adjusts to soil conditions has provided the solution.
"Previously over this country, we could go too deep and leave a rut, but the new bar has worked beautifully," Mr Varone said.
"You could see it in the germination and establishment - the crop came up very well.
"We have been fortunate with the timing of rainfall and are looking at an above average season again this year.
"It could be up to 2.5 tonne (per hectare) for the wheat and barley and 3t (per ha) for the oats.
"Our average is up to around 1.8t (per ha)."
Mr Varone and his wife, Lina, farm more than 5000ha over five properties near Pingaring, in the Shire of Kulin.
They crop up to 60 per cent of their land to cereals and lupins while also running a Merino flock, including ewes mated to South Suffolk terminal sires for prime lamb production.
The properties comprise mainly light to medium soils, but also feature heavy white clays and red gimlet country.
Earlier, the cropping program was sown with a Gason airseeder and Ausplow DBS bar, before the Varones updated the airseeder to a Morris 9555 air cart incorporating two granular tanks and a liquid tank, and the bar to a Morris C2 Contour drill.
They have since upgraded the bar to an 18-metre Morris Quantum air drill, teamed with the 9555 air cart.
The Quantum air drill is set on 25-centimetre tyne spacings and features a single chute boot arrangement for seed and granular fertiliser, and which also deep bands liquid fertiliser.
"We were not as happy with the trash control with the DBS and had some issues, and we liked the hydraulic tynes with the C2 - how they worked and how even the bar remained," Mr Varone said.
"The C2 was a magnificent machine that could have done another 10 years, but we change our gear regularly and we like the packing pressure control with the Quantum for our deep light country, which is 50pc of our program.
"It's also good in wet conditions."
The Morris Auto-Pack technology automatically adjusts the packing pressure to suit the soil conditions, providing for correctly closed and packed furrows to create an ideal seedbed environment.
Supported by live hydraulics, the Varone's Morris Quantum air drill also features Auto-Lift technology, allowing automatic lowering and lifting of tynes, as well as end-of-row turning for perfect, hands-free turns, which all works in conjunction with their Topcon X35 controller.
Mr Varone said large flotation tyres across the bar also provided for an excellent seedbed.
"The C2 had smaller wheels and double at the front and back, and the back tyres used to pack the soil a bit and affect germination a little," he said.
"The Quantum has such wide wheels, so the footprint is virtually zero and there's almost no impact."
Mr Varone has been impressed by the frame strength and air kit system on the Morris Quantum air drill as well.
"We are year-in, year-out with our cropping and get a lot of compaction from the sheep, which is another reason why we went for the Quantum and use a Quadtrac tractor," he said.
"The tractor is 630 horsepower and we've hit white clay and the strength of the bar has stopped the tractor dead.
"The air kit system uses a lot of stainless steel, so there is not as much restriction, and we have Raycol seeding heads.
"Using a single chute system also helps to avoid blockages - we would have had one blockage for the whole season."
The Varones originally opted for a mechanical ground-drive system with the Morris 9555 air cart, however Mr Varone said they planned to adopt the manufacturer's Input Control Technology for section control soon.
It also features a conveyor system rather than an auger, which helps avoid product damage and loads the tanks in a matter of minutes.
Mr Varone said having the same brand air cart and bar since the C2 Contour drill also allowed everything to work in harmony, including all the product control and the air kit system. Other benefits can include tighter turning circles and seamless integration of electrics, hydraulics, harnessing, the Auto-Pack and Auto-Lift technologies, liquid kits and tow hitches.
"You can practically hit a fence with the tractor, turn and then the bar will miss it. It turns on a dime," he said.
"It's also good for resale, and it's also good to see all one colour eh," he joked.
The Varones have had the support of the McIntosh & Son branch at Kulin for their Morris equipment and Mr Varone said he had an excellent relationship with the local team.
"The service has been very good and they will always endeavour to get you going," he said.
The Morris dealer network throughout the country is backed by a comprehensive product support team and dial-in remote support is a standard offering for rigs fitted with the Topcon X35 controllers.
Growers interested in upgrading their seeding equipment have been urged to place orders as soon as possible to ensure delivery in time for the 2024 season.
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