Walkaway farmers invest in new blockage monitoring system, getting low-rate sowing is back on track

Countryman
Michael Marwick of McIntosh & Son Geraldton, Ray Gilham of Farmscan, and Walkaway grower Josh Garratt discuss the effectiveness of the Intelligent Ag Recon Wireless Blockage and Flow Monitor system used on the family’s 15-metre (50-foot) John Deere 1830 air drill.
Camera IconMichael Marwick of McIntosh & Son Geraldton, Ray Gilham of Farmscan, and Walkaway grower Josh Garratt discuss the effectiveness of the Intelligent Ag Recon Wireless Blockage and Flow Monitor system used on the family’s 15-metre (50-foot) John Deere 1830 air drill.

Walkaway grain, sheep and cattle farmer Josh Garratt’s investment in one of the latest blockage monitoring systems, has proved valuable this seeding, particularly in sowing canola at low rates.

With his father Bruce, Mr Garratt crops wheat, lupins and canola and runs 300 Dorper ewes and 200 Droughtmaster breeders crossed to Charolais bulls on their 2500ha property north-east of Geraldton, “Our Brindabella”.

They recently upgraded their old blockage system to Farmscan’s Intelligent Ag Recon Wireless Blockage and Flow Monitor, to save man hours and avoid having to reseed areas, which Mr Garratt called a “no-brainer”.

“If you lose 10ha and factor a canola yield of 1.6 tonnes/ha, that’s 16 tonnes you are missing out on,” he said. “At $650/t, that’s a loss of $10,400.

“It adds up pretty quickly.”

The seeding program is completed by a tow-behind Simplicity 9000 airseeder and 15m John Deere 1830 air drill set on 25cm tyne spacings. The rig is pulled by a John Deere 9460R tractor.

They use a simple, double shoot seeding boot configuration, placing fertiliser just below the seed.

Josh said their canola program comprised largely of genetically modified varieties sown at rates as low as 1.6-1.8kg/ha, which made it “too easy to miss a stuff-up”.

“Being so fine and at 1.6kg/ha, it’s hard to pick it up when you are checking behind the seeder,” he said.

The Garratts were previously using an old blockage monitoring system that could not detect the canola and so had since invested in the Intelligent Ag Recon Wireless Blockage and Flow Monitor from Farmscan.

“We had a bit of a problem — a couple of heads where the seed was bouncing over the metering rollers, so there were a few strips in paddocks that we were not happy about,” Mr Garratt said.

“It wasn’t using a percussion plate like the latest system. Now, as the seed hits the plate, that’s where you get audio to tell you the product is hitting it. At least with this system, you have a bit more trust in gear.”

He said his father initially discovered the Farmscan system, available through McIntosh & Son branches on YouTube.

“He uses YouTube as a research tool and I think it popped up on his feed,” Mr Garratt joked.

“We looked at everything, but this system had a completely different idea. It was the only one that worked on an audio feed from the seed hitting the sensor.

“We wanted to try it and so we put it on every second tyne and straight away we could see that if we did have a problem, we could see exactly what tyne it was on.

You could see that it was the number one head and which tyne and boot. It pinpoints exactly where the problem is, so then you can jump out, clear it and off you go.

Josh Garratt

They had not encountered any problems with the Intelligent Ag Recon Wireless Blockage and Flow Monitor, with only an ECU requiring quick replacement.

However, the system had identified various blockages that were promptly rectified.

“We are quite pedantic — even if we see a single hose with no seed, it is annoying,” Mr Garratt said. “If we see it in the cab, we want to do something about it.”

Mr Garratt said it also helped to prevent the possibility of considerable downtime at seeding.

“We had problems before where we had to re-seed a bit of country,” he said.

“You can get over a few hectares, check manually and go ‘oh no, we have got a problem here’, and so then have to go over it. You have to reseed and you are covering the country again with diesel and man hours.

The system cost $8000, so if you stuff-up 10ha, it well and truly pays for itself. It’s definitely a no-brainer.

Josh Garratt

He said they were very impressed and also had received plenty of interest in the system from other growers, who were quickly convinced of its benefits.

McIntosh & Son sales representative Michael Marwick said Farmscan’s Wireless Blockage and Flow Monitor was an aftermarket monitoring system that could be fitted to any airseeder and also work in conjunction with Morris Input Control Technology.

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