How the DBS really works in soil

category: 
DBS
Illustration 1: Once soil structure is in place, the environment created by the DBS becomes a virtual bucket, capable of holding moisture, whether that be from rain, water vapour (relative humidity in the soil) or from liquid fertilisers. The illustration also shows how sowing near-row doesn’t disturb existing stubble and old roots.

Illustration 1: Once soil structure is in place, the environment created by the DBS becomes a virtual bucket, capable of holding moisture, whether that be from rain, water vapour (relative humidity in the soil) or from liquid fertilisers. The illustration also shows how sowing near-row doesn’t disturb existing stubble and old roots.

Illustration 2: Ausplow recommends using coulters on its precision seeders to remove any stubble which may affect seed germination.

Illustration 2: Ausplow recommends using coulters on its precision seeders to remove any stubble which may affect seed germination.

By JOHN RYAN AM
It has been more than 30 years since I designed the DBS precision seeder.
My aim was to improve better crop establishment
while improving soil health.
And while we have seen many technological advances over the past three decades, I really haven’t made many changes to my original design.
What was achieved with the first DBS remains the same today.
It started with a narrow digging blade having a reverse digging angle which required more pulling power.
This was done intentionally to create a bursting action of soil particles, with space for roots to grow into and to hold air and water, therefore creating an environment for healthy root growth.
Precision seed depth was achieved by parallelogram linkage, embracing the tine and covering wheel.
It was called a ‘press wheel’ in the early 1990s but I believe ‘covering’ is a more appropriate term because it follows a closing tool, which forms a firm base to place seed onto.
The rolling action of the covering wheel causes soil fines to cover seed, while forming a water-harvesting furrow.
The covering wheel has a light ground pressure so as not to compact soil and not close air and water voids.
The soil fines covering the seed are made by the closing tool shaking soil particles from plant roots (stubble and even weeds), and these fines become the building blocks of soil structure as they move during the plant’s growth.
They associate with root hairs and organic material as complex biological processes create microscopic fungi, eventually leading to what we know as organic carbon.
Once this soil structure is in place, the environment created by the DBS becomes a virtual bucket, capable of holding moisture (Illustration 1), whether that be from rain, water vapour (relative humidity in the soil) or from liquid fertilisers.
The minimum tillage effect of the knife blade retains all plant roots in the soil.
I would recommend using coulters (Illustration 2) on our precision seeders to further enhance this process to remove any stubble which may affect seed germination.
Roots being left in the soil to decay provide pathways for water run-off and air to enter creating an environment for microbes to colonise.
This is the crux of our BioFurrow™ hypothesis.
The non-cultivated inter-row remains firm and dry reducing weed growth, giving good trafficability, while water run-off means that the furrow receives an accumulation of water essential in dry years with low rainfall events – even from heavy dews.

Renovated DBS #53 still going strong

category: 
DBS
Manoora, South Australia farmer Peter McInerney with his refurbished 30 foot DBS which completed 2000 acres of cereals and pasture establishment this year.

Manoora, South Australia farmer Peter McInerney with his refurbished 30 foot DBS which completed 2000 acres of cereals and pasture establishment this year.

Ten years ago, Manoora, South Australia farmers the McInerny’s bought a 23 foot DBS precision seeder.

It was a second hand machine originally owned by fellow DBS owner and WA farmer Barry Kowald, Katanning. It was bought for Peter by his brother Tom, an agronomist who manages the Nutrien Ag Solutions agency in Gnowangerup, south east of Perth, with Zac Walsh.

Hearing his brother wanted a bigger bar, Tom last year secured a 30-foot S Series DBS D260 (serial number 053) from Ian Laurie, Gnowangerup, with extensions for a wider working width of 36 feet.

Tom dismantled the bar and had it sand-blasted and painted in Gnowangerup before sending the frame and seeding modules to Peter, who renovated it in February this year with the help of Ausplow’s service manager Ray Beacham and staff from Ausplow South Australian dealer Ramsay Bros at Riverton.

“We re-bushed and upgraded all of the tine assemblies to second hand ‘Version 3’ assemblies, resealed all of the hydraulic tine cylinders, installed a new air kit and replaced all of the hydraulic hoses across the bar,” Peter said.

"It might be an old bar but after renovating it came up like a brand new bar and worked really well for us establishing 2000 acres of cereal and pasture.”
According to Peter he used six-inch DBS blades with 50mm split seed spreader boots, effectively creating eight-inch rows on 10-inch spacing’s, which is ideal for his hay crops and increasing weed competition between rows.

We also run RTK guidance between rows mainly for trash flow so we’re not disturbing stubbles and the competition we’re creating with hay crops in the rotation is helping us control our ryegrass weeds better.”

Peter says the big benefit of using the DBS is its precision seeding and excellent plant establishment.

“In some paddocks we still pull up some rocks but 90 per cent of the time the DBS works really well and the tine stays in the ground” he said.

Evolution of the DBS

category: 
DBS
Service manager Ray Beecham (left) and sales and marketing manager Chris Blight have played pivotal roles in the development of the DBS module over the years.

Service manager Ray Beecham (left) and sales and marketing manager Chris Blight have played pivotal roles in the development of the DBS module over the years.

By JOHN RYAN AM
This year marks more than 25 years since I developed the DBS, or Deep Blade System.
Today, it’s an accepted and widely adopted precision seeding tool, with basically no change to the original idea of cultivation below the seed, a closing tool to establish a firm seedbed and following press wheel for that vital seed-soil contact (the three-slot system).
But it’s history of evolution has never been told until now.
As you can see from the photographs, there has been many changes from the prototype, which is testament to mainly farmer ideas and Ausplow’s research and development team.
The original DBS, which was designed around 1992, comprised a simple spring-operated C-shank, attached to which was a parallelogram ‘rib’ designed with a knife blade, fertiliser tube and closing plate, and a seed hose holder and press wheel, to ‘tamp’ or firm the soil, as well as controlling seeding depth.
It was a system that meant each seeding unit operated independently of the bar’s ground-following capabilities, ensuring an almost constant position for accurate seed placement.
I trialled this unit on several combine seeders and it soon became apparent changes were needed, including dispensing with the heavy-duty springs and adding hydraulics.
The springs produced too much ‘chatter’ which meant poor seed placement, particularly on breakout – a common complaint by all farmers in those days, who operated seeding bars with spring tines.
We also found the press wheel lacked suitable pressure for a range of soil types and in wet conditions “attracted” a lot of mud build-up, rendering it fairly useless to control seeding depth.
So from the prototype, we progressed to the commercial Version 1 of the DBS, with serial number 001 being sold to Esperance farmer, the late Ross Whittle.
Version 1 was fitted to a 9.1m (30ft) DBS bar with modules far beefier in design, with the addition of a solid seeding tube to better protect the seeding hose and prevent ‘blocking’, which also was a common complaint with all bars in those days.
Our selection of knife blade lengths went from 17.5cm (7in) to 22.5cm (9in).
The press wheel was changed to a larger rounded tyre (70mm diameter) and fitted with a mud scraper. The closing tool also was widened to 60mm to push more soil into the trench to alleviate seed falling in too deep.
But the biggest change was the addition of hydraulics, which provided the necessary down pressure to keep the knife blade in the soil – a feature early DBS owners said allowed them to confidently tackle compacted paddocks and duplex soil conditions, particularly gravelly outcrops.
It led South Australia farmer Brendon Smart to declare that DBS stood for, ‘Digs Big Stones’.
We fitted a 10-litre accumulator to the bar with one check line.
A total of 89 Version 1 bars were sold between 1995 and 1997, in a period marked by enormous competition from mainly Canadian manufacturers.
In 1998, we released Version 2, which saw an important change in designing a longer fertiliser boot to improve profiling and consistency of fertiliser placement – on Version 1 the fertiliser boot was too high and in some soil conditions, sand would flow back into the trench before the fertiliser.
We also improved the mud scraper and built-in check valves on every cylinder.
Also we added another 20L accumulator to accommodate the increased width of the bar (now double fold), and to better handle rocky conditions.
That became a very successful bar with an exponential increase in sales throughout Australia over an eight year period.
In 2002 we completed the prototype of the Multistream, which provided us with a unique seeding rig capable of liquid injection (See separate story).
The evolution of the DBS continued with Version 3 being introduced in 2007.
This saw a new jump cylinder with aluminium pistons, purposely designed to reduce the overall weight of the bar, along with the introduction of stainless steel seed and fertiliser tubes.
And we replaced the mild steel brackets with ‘Hardox’ steel, which is part of the Bissaloy family.
We also extended the parallel side arms attaching the press wheel by 50mm (2in) to provide a bigger gap between the press wheel and the knife blade to improve material flow. And we ‘flanged’ the side arms, again creating more space but also strengthening the side arms. The mud scraper arm also was lengthened to intercept mud earlier.
And we provided a choice of press wheel widths of 50mm, 70mm (2.8in) and 90mm (3.6in) while retaining the 300mm (12in) diameter. Additionally we released a Vee-shaped press wheel which was 370mm (14.8in) in diameter, with a 70mm width.
By 2014, more ideas by our research and development team saw our current Version 4 begin to crystalise.
This included a concept from our sales and marketing manager Chris Blight, we now call the Pro-D tool system.
The Pro-D effectively replaced nine blades with one because of the depth adjustments possible between 15cm (6in) and 22.5cm (9in). This vastly increased flexibility to handle a range of soil types.
And our South Australian representative Ashley Smart also weighed in on the Version 4 with a suggestion for vertical support arms holding the press wheel, to eliminate ‘catching’ and soil build-up caused by the horizontal support arms.
Ashley was a major influence in our design changes and the result provided more space between the press wheel and support attachments to virtually eliminate mud build-up in sticky clay soils, predominately in New South Wales but occurring in patches in South Australia and Victoria.
A simple change from horizontal support arms to the vertical position and placing the mud scraper lower on the wheel for a quicker “attack” at the mud”, essentially solved a problem that Ashley raised with Ausplow.
So by 2016 we had the Version 4, the most significant change to the DBS module since its inception.
Apart from the Pro D and press wheel changes, we made it liquid-ready with the addition of a Friction Flow hose kit providing the ability for three different placements of liquid product, while opening up the rate of delivery to between 30 litres a hectare to 100L/ha to cater for variable rate applications.
We believe the Version 4 now offers a lot more functionality in a range of soil conditions and, of course, represents a huge improvement from when I first started with the prototype.
Our latest addition to the Version 4 is a rounded 135mm (5.3in) diameter press wheel which provides better flotation is deep ripped country and softer soil conditions.
Interestingly, we are finding a lot of interest among existing DBS owners in retro-fitting our Version 4 modules to their old bars.
Current R&D involves on-going trialling with our pair row boot to ensure it meets the standard required by owners and on the drawing board is a sectional control delivery system for granular and liquid products.
Yes, there will be a Version 5 of the DBS, and it will be the result of our continued listening and talking with DBS owners.
I would be happy to hear from anybody who would like to communicate with me via email at john@ausplow.com.au
Good luck for the 2018 season and let’s hope it’s a bin buster.

Another 80ft precision seeder heads for Wheatbelt

category: 
DBS
This 24.2m (80ft) DBS precision seeder left our Naval Base factory this week bound for the eastern Wheatbelt.

This 24.2m (80ft) DBS precision seeder left our Naval Base factory this week bound for the eastern Wheatbelt.

Another 24.2m (80ft) DBS precision seeder left our Naval Base factory this week headed for the eastern Wheatbelt. It has been designed on 325mm (13in) spacings with a total of 75 tines. With the special “scissor-fold” design for transport, these wider bars are adding another option to the DBS model line-up and are proving popular in WA and in the Eastern States. Currently we also have a 18.2m (60ft) scissor-fold demo model for sale and inquiries can be made to our Jandakot factory on 9417 8877. While our standard 18.2m (60ft) DBS precision seeders continue to be most popular with our owners, along with the 12.2m (40ft) models, the 24.2m model is an attractive option for bigger broadacre farmers wanting to increase productivity, especially if sowing windows tighten. You can talk with your local Ausplow dealer about your requirements, especially if you want to plan for the 2018 season. Remember we make an extensive range of precision seeders covering a range of working widths. We’re already taking orders on the back of one of our best forward order programs for the 2017 season. Here’s hoping for a good season.

Paired row boot ready for trials

category: 
DBS
Ausplow engineering manager Carl Vance illustrates the difference between the new 135mm diameter press wheel and the standard diameter press wheel mounted on a DBS module.

Ausplow engineering manager Carl Vance illustrates the difference between the new 135mm diameter press wheel and the standard diameter press wheel mounted on a DBS module.

We have a limited supply of paired row boots for the 2017 season. Many of our DBS owners already are set to trial the boots in 2017 with 135mm (5.5in) press wheels. If you are interested in trialling the boots, talk to your local dealer.

And remember, the improved efficiencies at our new Naval Base production facility has meant more factory allocations are now available.

So there’s still time to order a DBS, Multistream with new enhancements or an Easitill deep ripper for 2017.

And pre-season orders for parts closes on November 30.

So talk to your local dealer about your requirements.

And if you’re planning trials for 2017, we have an Easitill five tine machine available. Again, talk to your local dealer about how you can secure this machine. 

 

 

 

Pioneering with DBS 001

category: 
DBS
Ross Whittall and his nephew James Lewis who helped run the farm with Ross when this picture was taken in 2003 by Farm Weekly. In the background is DBS 001.

Ross Whittall and his nephew James Lewis who helped run the farm with Ross when this picture was taken in 2003 by Farm Weekly. In the background is DBS 001.

DBS 001 sandblasted and painted by owner number two Glen Williams.

DBS 001 sandblasted and painted by owner number two Glen Williams.

A happy Simon Jaeske with DBS 001.

A happy Simon Jaeske with DBS 001.

DBS 001, the first ever DBS bar built by Ausplow in 1996 is still going strong. It has been traced to South Australian farmer Simon Jaeske, Clare, who bought it off WA farmer Glen Williams from Gibson, who bought it off the original owner, Ross Whittall from Esperance. It’s a fascinating story of a precision seeding bar which initially solved a major problem for Ross, who in 1991 had embraced the true no-till concept with a disc seeder and found its limitation in not being able to harvest water. The following is an excerpt from a story in Farm Weekly in April, 2003: “The seeder had a press wheel to the side of the cutting disc which made the slot for the seed,” Ross said. “Moisture found its way into the depression made by the press wheel, while the seeding row remained dry. “With the 30 foot wide DBS, you achieved a ridge effect that encouraged water harvesting into the seed row and I immediately got a better germination. “The bonus was that with the knife point breaking up the sub soil, there was better plant root establishment.” When Ross bought DBS 001 he also took a leap of faith going to wider spacings. “I was on seven inches with the disc seeder but the DBS was designed on 10 inch spacings,” he said. “It didn’t cause any problems for me from the point of view of weeds getting on top of the crop. “I was splitting the seed and fertiliser (deep banding) and the DBS system worked very well.” With a no-fuss precision seeding bar, Ross enjoyed many years with DBS 001, including extending it to 40ft. “We modified the bar to increase its working width to 40ft but when we decided to go into controlled traffic farming we wanted a 30ft bar so we bought a new DBS,” Ross said. So DBS was sold to Glen. Then in 2009 he bought a three tank 9000 litre capacity Multistream to refine his nutrient program. The front tank was used for seed, the middle for granular fertiliser and the rear for liquid nitrogen with optional agitation. The agitation was driven off tractor remotes and comprised a nozzle mounted inside at the bottom of the tank. Essentially it constantly recycled the liquid mix by sucking it in and blowing it out. The degree of agitation could be altered on-the-go in the tractor cab. “I started using Flexi-N liquid fertiliser when it first came out in 2000,” Ross said. “At that stage we only used it as a post spray application. “But the Multistream is a huge improvement because we can split the nitrogen putting some in the trench at seeding (40L/ha) and applying more (60-70L/ha) as the season dictates. The post application is done at Flag-minus-one with a mix of MCPA to clean up any radish. “We also are applying Impact-in-furrow as insurance against rust and this fungicide is mixed in the Flex-N. Then we have a Dosatron which introduces liquid copper from a separate container into the Flex-N line.” According to Ross the new seeding rig provides “very even” spread of seed along the row along with accurate fertiliser rates, courtesy of a KEE controller. “And it’s easy to calibrate,” he said. With 14 years of using the DBS, Ross is seeing soil becoming softer with more organic matter. He establishes a1200ha cropping program using controller traffic which also has assisted with the status of the soil. “Obviously the rig is easier to pull with the tractor on the traffic rows but I think the subsoil renovation done by the DBS and the ability of plant roots to access moisture in the deeper soil profile has accelerated that softness. “With less drag, comes less fuel use too.” The proof of the pudding with the DBS system is in stronger plant establishment and setting up yield potential. While seasons vary markedly and can impact on yield, Ross is reminded that you can be a victim of your own success by setting up bumper crops. “I remember in 2004, the crop looked very good but with a dry finish the wheat ended up as chook feed,” he said. “The problem was that the plants were so well established, the roots easily got down into the sub moisture profile and sucked it dry leaving nothing to finish on. “It’s one of the reasons we go early with N applications to give the plants a start then wait for tillering to set up before we go in with a top-up. “We don’t go heavy with the first lot of N in the trench because we don’t want to encourage to many tillers.” Ross said he was now seeding thicker at rates around 90kg/ha for both wheat and lupins, in a wheat-lupin-canola rotation. (Sadly Ross died in 2012). The second owner For Glen, he can lay claim to a rare event. He sold DBS 0001 for the same price he paid for it. Glen worked the bar for 11 years before he sold it last year to Simon. “I paid $70,000 for it and when I sold it I got $70,000,” Glen said. “”It’s amazing considering the bar was the first one built in 1995 or 96,” he said. But Glen did add value to DBS 001 about five years ago adding trusses through the back of the bar similar to a DBS E Series and then sand-blasting and re-painting it. “I kept it in the shed when it wasn’t working and looked after it, so it was in very good shape when I took a few photos and sent them to Simon when he inquired about the bar,” Glen said. It goes without saying that Glen was impressed with the performance of the DBS because he bought a new model for the 2015 season. “We’ll crop about 4000 acres this year with a new DBS 40 footer on 12 inch spacings,” he said. Overall Glen said DBS 001 performed well but “it was time for an upgrade”. “It was a 20-year-old bar that was starting to show its age in the more variable soil types as opposed to still working really well in good soil conditions, particularly sowing canola,” he said. The current owner Simon completed his first season using DBS 001 last year. He bought the 12.2m (40ft) bar last year from Glen after looking at photographs of DBS 001 supplied by Glen. “It looked in pretty good nick after being sandblasted and re-painted,” Simon said. “We bought a few parts from Ramsey Bros, Riverton, before we put it into the ground, mainly blades, a few bushes and bearings for the parallelogram and the press wheels. “We also got a few seals for the hydraulics and while we did a wheel bearing on the bar, apart from that it was in really good condition.” Simon, who crops 5000 acres (2000ha), comprising canola, wheat, barley and hay, said it was almost an instant like for DBS 001 because of its ”exceptional seed placement”. “It was much better than our old seeder and our only disappointment was the tight finish to the season which resulted in us having high screenings. “But I’m happy with the bar and we’re looking at upgrading to Pro-Ds which should give us a long life with the DBS.” Simon said he used 15cm (6in) blades last season digging between 75mm and 100mm (3-4in) but found stubble caught on the bolt with consequent dragging of stubble. “This year we’ll go to seven inches (17.5cm) so the blade sits up a bit higher and there’s more leading edge for the stubble to get around rather than catching,” he said. Simon’s other observation was that digging deeper with the DBS promoted bigger root systems, especially with canola and while he went through two sets of blades because of the tight soil, he is confident he will be going into softer soil his year. His soils comprise mainly red brown loam, ironstone and limestone and he quickly became aware when the DBS hit a “reef”. “We just lifted it up and kept going,” Simon said. “We did bring up a lot of rocks and we had a rock bucket working but I had expected that and there weren’t too many dramas.” Simon has every reason to believe he will enjoy a long life with DSBS001. And he can lay claim to establishing his cropping program with arguably, Australia’s oldest broadacre precision seeding bar.

New Pro-D ready for 2015

category: 
DBS
Ausplow marketing manager Chris Blight (left) shows how to remove a DBS blade with an extraction tool which also is used to lock the whole assembly in place. With him is Ausplow engineering manager Carl Vance who played a pivotal role in developing the Pro-D tillage tool system.

Ausplow marketing manager Chris Blight (left) shows how to remove a DBS blade with an extraction tool which also is used to lock the whole assembly in place. With him is Ausplow engineering manager Carl Vance who played a pivotal role in developing the Pro-D tillage tool system.

Positive feedback about our new patented addition to our DBS Auseeder precision seeding bar, the Pro-D system, has seen a marked increase in interest for retro-fits for the 2015 season.

The Pro-D system is essentially is a new bolt-less tool assembly comprising an adjustable DBS blade and shrouded fertiliser boot and new closing tool.

DBS owners who have used the Pro-D system - in WA and the Eastern States – say the main benefits are easy depth adjustment of the digging blade and the elimination of blockages in the fertiliser tube because of the protective housing.

According to Ausplow owner John Ryan, the Pro-D system was born out of owner feedback for a simpler and more robust tool assembly.

“We don’t get too many complaints because the DBS bar is virtually bullet-proof but we never stop listening to owners,” he said. “On most farms you’ll find areas, particularly with rocks and rocky outcrops, where any bar gets a severe testing.

“It can compromise equipment either breaking it or wearing it and our owner feedback pointed to the need for a longer-wearing, ground-engaging tool.”

Ausplow marketing manager Chris Blight, who recently returned from visiting DBS owners in the Eastern States, said the reaction of those who had used the Pro-D was very positive.

“The easy adjustment of the blade depth to suit varying soil conditions and the ability to do it quickly in minutes is a big winner according to our owners,” Chris said.

“You effectively replace nine available blades sizes with two Pro-D blades because of the variable depth adjustments possible.

“You don’t need, for example, to have a 13cm (5in), 15cm (6in) blade, and a 17.5cm (7in) blade and a 22.5cm (9in) blade to suit different soil conditions.

“With the Pro-D it’s all in one blade to adjust to varying soil conditions.

 “Our owners also found the fertiliser shield was the perfect answer to reducing blockages and they reported a more consistent profiling of the deep banded fertiliser. This is due to the fertiliser boot working in the soil and directly behind the knife blade.

“There also are less issues with liquids because of the improved protection of the liquid tube.

“And one farmer planting faba beans this season told me he was able to place seed at four inches (10cm) with a rate of 110kg/ha with no blocks.”

Mr Blight said feedback also pointed to the Pro-D blade adapter shedding straw better.

“It’s like a built-in trash guard and keeps stubble falling forward and not hanging on around the shank,” Chris said.

According to the company’s engineering manager Carl Vance, more material has been added to the point of highest wear, thickening the base of the DBS blade and widening the bursting tungsten tile.

“We have also designed three grooves on either side of the blade to capture soil,” he said.

“Effectively in operation, this means you have soil passing over soil to reduce wear on the sides of the blade.”

With improved wearing characteristics achieved the team then decided to make it easier to change and with an adjustable blade and closing tool depth.

“We had about 20 or 30 ideas and we investigated all of them,” Carl said. “We eventually settled on a blade adapter with a U-pin design, something which came out of the evolutionary thought process.

“Because it was a bolt-less design, the challenge then was to make it strong to combat the working stresses.”

Two U-pins were designed, one for the blade adapter and one for the closing tool and one cam-shaped extraction tool which is also found on the opposite end of every Pro-D blade.

The next step was to beef up the fertiliser boot.

It comprises a polyurethane boot protected by a cast steel shield allowing the boot to follow deep working below the DBS blade without damage up to a depth of about 10cm (4in).

This increases the precision of deep banding.

The cast steel shield also protects a liquid hose attached to the boot for the placement of required liquid nutrients.

Improvements to the closing tool include a replacement tungsten-faced tip on the stem.

“The geometry of the closing tool hasn’t changed but the tip will give longer wearing life,” Carl said. “It is equipped with a similar U-pin to the DBS blade adapter for depth adjustment and you can use the same extraction tool.”

 

Ripple effect of using a DBS

category: 
DBS
Boekeman Machinery service manager James Gulliver (left), salesman Steve Darrah and Konnongorring farmer Jamie Bynon puictured during a post-seeding check of the new Ausplow seeding rig |Jamie bought earlier this year – a new Case IH Steiger Quadtrac, an Ausplow Multistream air seeder and an Ausplow DBS precision seeding bar.

Boekeman Machinery service manager James Gulliver (left), salesman Steve Darrah and Konnongorring farmer Jamie Bynon puictured during a post-seeding check of the new Ausplow seeding rig |Jamie bought earlier this year – a new Case IH Steiger Quadtrac, an Ausplow Multistream air seeder and an Ausplow DBS precision seeding bar.

By KEN WILSON IT almost goes without saying these days that broadacre crop establishment has improved in leaps and bounds on the back of more than 20 years of improved machinery technology. And it’s interesting to hear from farmers the ripple effect of using equipment in an essentially dryland farming environment. Take Konnongorring farmer Jamie Bynon, for example. Earlier this year he took delivery of his second Ausplow DBS precision seeder linked to the company’s Multistream three bin 14,000 litre air seeder from Wongan Hills machinery dealer Boekeman Machinery. The DBS is measured precisely by 54 hydraulically-activated tine assemblies spaced at 25cm (10in) spacings for a working width of 13.6m (45ft). Jamie traded a similar bar on the new rig in a move to upgrade his seeding equipment. “I bought my first DBS seven or eight years ago to handle our rocky conditions,” he said. “We have everything from sheet rock to gravel to duplex sand and red clay over gravel. “What we quickly saw with the first DBS was the frequent variations in tine pressures,” Jamie said. “But the big difference was that you didn’t get the snap-back you got with spring tines. “Restrictors on the hydraulic rams meant tines returned (to working position) slower without the seed boot shaking and moving seed placement. “On our rocky ground we just back off on the pressures and the press wheel handles it well to keep the seed boot where it should be. “When it’s wet we still pull up rocks but it’s not a major problem and there are plenty of benefits in being able to achieve under-seed cultivation.” Most visibly is lack of contour banks and old creek lines in undulating paddocks. “We filled in the old creek lines and seed over them and we’ve got rid of the contour banks because we don’t need them because they’re not holding water,” Jamie said. “With the press wheel creating the furrows and the under-seed cultivation, the water is staying where it falls. “The shape of the furrows also is handy for water harvesting small rain events which can concentrate moisture in the row.” What Jamie also is experiencing is the ability to sow dry in so-called Sunday country and tight paddocks and it got to the stage now that once you start you don’t stop. “We’ve got a 3200ha (7900ac) program and I prefer to get the canola in dry, particularly the GM varieties, because we get a better germination,” he said. “If you’ve got some moisture underneath, the DBS allows us to either sit the weed on the moisture or keep it dry depending on soil conditions where you want to avoid a wet-dry scenario.” Another plus for Jamie is the under-seed cultivation also has promoted more soil structure and he says his soils are getting softer. “But the soil’s not moving and it’s amazing to see a summer storm not shift dirt,” he said. According to Boekeman Machinery salesman Steve Darrah, DBS owners regard the seeding bar as more than just a precision seeder. “Its three-slot system has many benefits which collectively promote productivity gains in improved yields through precision placement and improved soil structure through underseed cultivation, which leads to improved soil health,” he said. “These features have remained unchanged for 20 years and still provide the most beneficial environment for plant establishment and growth.” Published in Farm Weekly in June 2015.