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On track with a 28000L Multistream

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Kojonup farmer Geoff Thorn says the saddle tank holding Treflan is a big improvement on carrying enviro drums on the side of a trailed water cart. Treflan is metered through a Dosatron into a line carrying water from the seventh tank (4700L) on the Multistream.

Kojonup farmer Geoff Thorn says the saddle tank holding Treflan is a big improvement on carrying enviro drums on the side of a trailed water cart. Treflan is metered through a Dosatron into a line carrying water from the seventh tank (4700L) on the Multistream.

By KEN WILSON It is self-evident the continued declining terms of trade for farmers has forced them to become more cost efficient with their farm operations. Anything within a farmer’s control that can be changed inevitably gets a forensic assessment, because farmers know they can’t control commodity prices. And that, in a nutshell, is the reason why Kojonup farmer Geoff Thorn paid a visit to Case IH Katanning dealership Farmers Centre (1978) last year. On his shopping list was an Ausplow seeding rig and a 410kW (550hp) Case IH Steiger Quadtrac. The new gear represented a major upgrade to existing equipment which had served the crop and fat lamb production enterprise for about 12 years. Explaining the family’s “forensic” analysis to upgrade, Geoff said it became a question of current wants and future needs. His wife Wendy and son Hamish manage the sheep on 2200ha of pasture country while he and two other sons, Lachie and Rohan, take care of the 2400ha cropping program. The family’s choice of an Ausplow 28,500 litre capacity Multistream - configured as a tow-between unit on a single heavy duty axle and equipped with dual Trelleborg 800/70R38 tyres - and a Ausplow DBS 18.3m (60ft) precision seeding bar, might seem like over-kill. But Geoff is quick to point out that with three sons, there might potentially be more cropping to establish in future years. And additionally, the father-cum-gopher, will breathe a little easier during seeding with fewer fills. “We’ll now go for 16 to 18 hours a day and it will only take two fills,” Geoff said. “That takes a lot of pressure off me filling trucks to service the rig, which got pretty hectic when we were working on 24 hours shifts with Hamish as an extra driver.” The wider bar will enable more flexibility during the sowing window, considering there’s a waiting period for rain and a weed germination. “We don’t sow dry,” Geoff said. “But with the wider bar we can get the program done fairly quickly, even if we have to stop during a dry period.” In the future, more emphasis may also be placed on liquid fertilisers and nutrients, which can be easily handled by the Multistream, which has seven bins – four holding 4400 litres each, two holding 4700L and one bin holding 1500L (small seeds). Flexi-N is carried in the sixth bin (4400L) with fungicide and occasionally trace elements and Geoff said there was potential to have more additives in the liquid systems if they were shown to be effective. Plus there’s a side saddle tank that will hold 500L of Treflan. This was an improvement on the old rig which towed a 2000L tank of water and Treflan in enviro drums on the side of the cart and metered to booms on the front of a 12m (40ft) DBS. This eliminated one spray-ahead operation. With the new Multistream, the saddle tank holds the Treflan and is metered through a Dosatron into a line carrying water from the seventh tank (4700L). “We’ve been spraying out Treflan on the bar since 2009,” Geoff said. “It has vastly improved weed control because you get less volatilisation from almost immediate incorporation.” Rates vary between 2L-3L/ha depending on crops and weed burdens and incorporation presents no problems on 30cm (12in) spacings. “We’ve gone to 12 inch spacings to handle stubble and to ensure we’re not getting excess soil throw in the furrows,” Geoff said. “We work the pasture paddocks a little slower at 8km/h because they’re a little tighter from carrying stock but generally we’re still digging down to six inches (15cm) using seven inch (17.5cm) blades.” It is this underseed cultivation which Geoff regards as “critical” for plant root development – even though hard-panning is not a big issue in the mainly duplex sandy loams ranging from deep sands to jam soils. “The other big aspect is the water harvesting in the furrows,” Geoff said. “Crops are visually slow away but there’s a lot of root activity going on and it doesn’t take that long before plants are racing out of the ground.” Crop yields of 4t/ha or better for cereals and between 1.5-2t/ha for canola, firstly reflect reliable rainfall (380mm growing season from an annual average 450mm) and secondly high organic carbon with measurements between 2.5 and 3.5. But Geoff also considers stubble retention since the early 1990s and the soil renovation done with the DBS in a one-pass crop establishment have been major contributors to soil health. “Some of our paddocks have been in crop since 1990 and what we’ve seen with paddocks now is that you don’t get run-off and we’re using less fuel,” Geoff said. “So I guess that’s an indication that soils are getting softer.” With a mixed crop-sheep enterprise, Geoff explained that a lot of the country was not conducive to cropping and most paddocks were continuously cropped with the remainder placed in a pasture rotation. The main cropping rotation comprises wheat, canola, barley, oats and lupins, though this is dependent on seasons and prices. The inevitable chemical resistance is starting to emerge, particularly in paddocks continuously cropped since 1990. But strategies are already in place to place pressure on weed seed populations, including a switch to TT canola varieties and sheep. According to Farmer’s Centre (1978) Katanning branch manager Kevin Newman, the Multistream includes a dual fan system with two air streams for seed and fertiliser. Variable fan speed settings will enable low air for sowing canola and high air for sowing cereals. And he says the Steiger Quadtrac is a perfect match to meet the hydraulic requirements of the Multistream with a dual flow (427 litres a minute) to separately handle hydraulics on the Multistream and the DBS, meaning the bar’s lift and fold functions will not compromise hydraulic pressures for fan speeds on the Multistream. The Dosatron is operated by one of two Mono worm-drive pumps providing chemical delivery to the sprayline and nutrients to plumbed lines on each of the DBS tines for deep banding. In-furrow treatments also can be achieved. The sixth tank on the Multistream can hold liquid trace elements and fungicides and is equipped with agitation. Five remotes are grouped together at the rear of the Multistream to accommodate hydraulic plumbing to the bar. And an optional hitch is fitted at the rear which can be used to fit a ProTrakker guidance system. On this model, 10 cameras are fitted to allow the operator to sight the metering units and bin interiors while a separate rear camera is focused on the DBS. Metering is achieved remotely via Topcon X20 controller although manual control allows override to adjust rates to suit. The Multistream also is equipped with a hydraulically-operated 25cm (10in) load-unload auger. “It is definitely designed for today’s higher production requirements,” Mr Newman said. “And there’s built-in flexibility for a range of options for crop establishment.” Published by Farm Weekly March 2016 .

Publish Date: 
Thursday, March 17, 2016