Speed seeder cuts input costs
The adoption of a 24m (80-foot) cutting-edge seeding system is helping to carve new performance benchmarks on a large-scale cropping operation on the margins of the State's northern grain belt.
The Canadian-designed Seed Hawk system permits precision seeding at shallow depths, even in heavy stubble conditions, uneven terrain or high operating speeds.
Combined with GPS-guided section control technology that eliminates overlapping on headlands, the system is proving to be ideal for minimum-tillage cropping system.
Murray, Jenny and Kyle Carson operate three properties - Pine Crest, Wookra and Youanmi - in the west Binnu region about 100km north of Geraldton.
About 7000 hectares are sown to wheat, canola or lupins under min-till conditions each year.
"When I came home about seven years ago, Dad was farming about 3000ha with a 40ft Flexi-Coil 820 bar and 2320 seed cart," Kyle said.
"We purchased a third property in 2010 and we inherited a 50ft Ausplow DBS precision seeder.
"Our workload doubled overnight but we weren't particularly happy with either of our seeding units.
"We wanted something larger that could handle all of our work but with improved depth control and fuel efficiency. We also wanted something that fitted in with our program.
"We're operating a tramline system on 3m spacings and 40ft rows."
With its patented laid-back openers and 80ft operating width, the Seed Hawk seemed an obvious fit.
However, it was the Seed Hawk's optional GPS-guided section control technology that really caught the Carsons' imagination.
"If you're running a 80ft seeder in large paddocks with angles, overlapping is a costly issue," Kyle said. "With MAP and DAP costing about $700 a tonne, it quickly adds up.
"With the Seed Hawk, the openers on the outer sections get pulled up automatically, shutting down the seed and fertiliser metering while we turn around."
The Carsons took delivery of their 24.4m unit, complete with a 21,000-litre seed cart out the back and a new Caterpillar Challenger MT865 up front, from Agwest Machinery in Geraldton last season.
The seeding bar boasts 80 of Seed Hawk's patented 'openers' which independently track ground contours.
The twin knives accurately place the fertiliser about 15mm below and 35mm beside the seed, ensuring nutrition is available where it's needed.
Depth control is achieved via the trailing press wheel, which packs and seals the furrow for faster, more uniform emergence.
Each opener is pulled into its operating position by a hydraulic ram with adjustable 'break-out' pressure.
Once the trip pressure has been reached, the opener gently glides up and over any obstacle before re-engaging the soil.
Kyle said the new seeding unit had not been without its teething problems.
"This is going to take another season or two to bed down but it's going to be worth it," he said.
"We are basically doing the job of two machines and two men with a single machine.
"When everything is running well, we are sowing up to 25ha an hour yet only using 2.5L/ha in fuel. This is a third of what we were doing with one of our old rigs, despite the Seed Hawk being 60 per cent wider.
"Initially we were worried about the 12-inch wide row spacing in terms of weed control, but the emergence is just so even the crop seems to grow away from the weeds."
Seed Hawk toolbars are distributed via CLAAS Harvest Centres and other distributors, including Agwest Machinery and Cunninghams.
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