Assessing new crop establishment system

category: 
On-Farm
This example of near-row sowing is where Kweda farmer Jeff Edwards is heading with trials this year leading towards establishing the BioFurrow™ system in the near future.

This example of near-row sowing is where Kweda farmer Jeff Edwards is heading with trials this year leading towards establishing the BioFurrow™ system in the near future.

Kweda and DBS owner Jeff Edwards believes a holistic approach is his best pathway to a sustainable and profitable farming enterprise.
The family crops 5000 hectares and manages 3000ha of pasture, running 6500 Merino breeding ewes, ‘maxxing’ out the flock at 14,000 head.
Soils comprise mainly duplex sandplain with some heavy country.
The holistic approach comes from Jeff’s desire to improve soil health.
He is a big fan of digging soil pits which have revealed weaknesses in the sandplain soils.
“I have always been concerned about the impact of current farming systems on soils, particularly from chemicals, compaction and other practices,” he said.
"If we want to keep producing more from less rainfall, we really need to look at our soil health and what is happening down at depth, not just on the surface.
“That’s why I believe the Ausplow hypothesis of the BioFurrow ™ is credible. (The BioFurrow™ is, in, effect, near-row sowing but is essentially a ‘furrow for life’ as opposed to ‘nudging’ the furrow across the landscape in each cropping year).
“To me it’s a logical way to increase soil health, which is my main goal.
“And if I can achieve that I will be evening out the highs and lows of seasons with improved water-use efficiency during the growing season.”
While Jeff is a strong advocate of the DBS he also believes that there is a “first step” before setting up the BioFurrow™, which is basically near-row sowing but using the same “pot plant” created by the DBS each year.
“Digging the soil pits showed me our subsoils were basically dead and that’s why I started incorporating lime and gypsum,” he said.
“Last year I used a Bednar Terraland to mix the gypsum and lime on a 500ha test paddock at a depth of 450 mills and then sowed with the DBS.
“The result was very encouraging and the return on investment was definitely there with a one tonne a hectare average above yields we got in the paddocks we didn’t work.
“And we have seen faster elevation of soil pH in the 500ha paddock moving to around 5.5pH.
“This year we will rip lime in at 250mm as we expand our trial to 1000ha.
“The 60-foot DBS on 10 inch spacings easily handled the softer area we Terralanded; we just fitted the bigger 90mm press wheels and reset the chocks so there was no room for error.
“Next year we may have a crack at setting up for near-row sowing employing the BioFurrow™ hypothesis.
“My thoughts are that if we do set up for the BioFurrow™ we will bring country into that regime after we have set it up with lime and gypsum applications.
“This year we’ll trial cross-tracking (sowing at an angle over last year’s plants) and assess. (Jeff doesn’t see stubble issues because crops are harvested at beer can height and stubbles grazed).
“It makes sense to me to get the soil in a better state before we start on the BioFurrow™.
“And I think there should be more focus on the plant availability of nutrients which logically involves having healthy populations of micro biota in the soil.
“Soil health is our main goal because it will lead to increased profits with more stable production in moisture-limiting years.
“Importantly financiers will be on board because of that and the resultant increase in land values.”

SA farmers back BioFurrow™ sowing

category: 
On-Farm
South Australian Ausplow dealer Ramsey Bros director Hamish Ward (left), Cummins, SA and Eyre Peninsula farmer Steve Glover.

South Australian Ausplow dealer Ramsey Bros director Hamish Ward (left), Cummins, SA and Eyre Peninsula farmer Steve Glover.

Eyre Peninsula farmers Peter and Steve Glover are keen supprters of Ausplow’s BioFurow™ hypothesis.
In fact, for the past 20 years the brothers have unwittingly been using two 60-foot (18.2 metre) DBS precision seeders in what might be called defacto BioFurrow™ crop establishment.
Having bought their first DBS in 2000, the brothers, soon noticed better germinations sowing across the previous year’s furrows.
“We’ve got a significant percentage of our program (9000 hectares) that is non-wetting,” Steve Glover said. “And it was evident that where we sowed close to the old rows, we got a strike, whereas we got nothing in the dry soil between the rows.
“It ended up like a checkerboard pattern in the non-wetting paddocks and while germinations were staggered we got about 60 per cent of the plants up, which was a better result than previous attempts which might have germinated between 10 and 20pc.
“It was very obvious there was residual moisture in the old root pathways that was available to the seeds supporting information that I had heard about sowing in-furrrow.
“We wanted to retain our stubbles which is why we went for 12 inch spacings and on our worst non-wetting paddocks, crop is now established on an angle from the previous year’s rows.
“These paddocks tend to have less stubble residue, and so physically getting through the stubbles is less of an issue.
“It was no surprise to me that there would be a moisture band that seeds could capitalise on if they were closer to those old rows.”
Steve said sowing straight either inter-row, in-row or between 20-30 millimetres from the row would be a way to repeat every year.
“But we’ve two 60-footers and you can get it wrong, even with RTK guidance, if you say sow 100mm off from the row because nothing will come up (in the non-wetting soil).”
(The reason for this is that some spacings are not exactly 12 inches and some rows, because of the tine layout for stubble handling, mean spacings can be 11 inches or 13 inches).
“So sowing across the rows is all about accessing moisture and in the non-wetting soils it is a compromise but it gets a better result than sowing up and back,” Steve said.
“And with the two bars we’re not necessarily going in the same direction every year like you would if you just had one bar.”
After 20 years of “angle sowing” there remains a lot of old root pathways but interestingly Steve says the majority of moisture tends to congregate in the previous year’s rows.
The other observation is that the sandy loams, red loams and limestone soils have become softer.
“There’s no argument that the one-pass and knife blade technology of the DBS had helped considerably in making the soils softer,” he said.
“The key is moisture and air and the action of the DBS creates some deep ripping to allow moisture to get down with nutrients so there’s also some amelioration going on too.
“And we know where you’ve got moisture you got biological activity which is probably another name for Mother Nature.
“The DBS had been a great machine for us and its technology is helping us to achieve more consistent yields every year particularly in those low moisture seasons where it would have been hard to achieve meaningful yields if you didn’t have that DBS technology.
“And it really shines in the non-wetting soils.”

Precision move to back manufacturing

category: 
On-Farm
Seeding’s over, now for the follow-up rain. That was the topic of discussion between Jennacubbine farmer Darren West (left), his son Dylan, Ag Implements Northam branch manager Luke Siddons and salesman Ted Chester, as they reviewed the performance of Mr West’s new DBS precision seeder recently.

Seeding’s over, now for the follow-up rain. That was the topic of discussion between Jennacubbine farmer Darren West (left), his son Dylan, Ag Implements Northam branch manager Luke Siddons and salesman Ted Chester, as they reviewed the performance of Mr West’s new DBS precision seeder recently.

Jennacubbine farmers Dylan West (left) and his father Darren discuss the performance of the paired row boot which was a specific addition to the DBS because the majority of the West program is growing oats for export hay.

Jennacubbine farmers Dylan West (left) and his father Darren discuss the performance of the paired row boot which was a specific addition to the DBS because the majority of the West program is growing oats for export hay.

By KEN WILSON
JENNACUBBINE farmer Darren West is an avid supporter of WA manufacturers.
So it was an easy decision for him assessing a new seeding bar for this season.
His choice was a DBS precision seeder built by Ausplow at its Naval Base factory.
The D260-46N CTF model was delivered in March by Ag Implements Northam, well before the start of a 1700ha cropping program, the majority of which was oats for export hay.
The model designation translates to a 12.2 metre working width on 260 millimetre spacings designed for controlled traffic farming (CTF). It also is designed with a narrow main frame to negotiate narrow gates.
While Darren has yet to change to CTF, the bar is compatible with his 36.6m boomsprayer.
He started the program on May 5 “into dry dirt” and completed most of the program before waiting for the recent rain (and wind) front to pass before completing the final 250ha of oats and 300ha of wheat on deep ripped sand.
“The bar has done everything I hoped it would do,” he said.
“It didn’t miss a beat in the dry digging to between five and seven inches (125-175mm) without compromising seeding depth and the proof of that was the even germinations.
“We added the paired row boots to the bar because we’re mainly growing oats so we’re achieving a narrower row spacing plus leaving it on for wheat helps with weed competition.
“With about 21 mills for May and June, everything is now up and away.
“And we’ve got 54 mills of summer rain sitting down there which is a good feeling.”
According to Darren, the DBS is built for dry sowing.
“It’s got the weight and it just digs and I was pleasantly surprised we didn’t have any problems with string (from hay bales) wrapping around the tines.”
Darren also praised the quality of components, including the Pro-D tool system which comprises the bolt-less DBS knife blade and adaptor, a new fertilizer boot and fertilizer shield.
All are depth adjustable simply by using a specially-designed hand tool to remove a retaining pin which holds the assembly together.
The hand tool also is used to lock the assembly in place once adjustments are made.
Its newly designed and patented closing tool also is depth adjustable using a hand tool.
“It’s a great idea because we basically have two options to use to cater for soil types,” Darren said. “Basically we can dig between five and seven inches on our heavy country and change to seven to nine inches (225mm) for lighter soils if we want to.
“But the hand tool is still in the plastic bag as we had no need to change any points this seeding.”
As far as Darren is concerned the DBS is “the best you can buy” and “it’s built in WA”.
“I’m impressed with the company’s attitude of wanting my feedback to improve the bar and the after sales services both from the company and Ag Implements,” he said. “Having everything local is really good in terms of quick responses from the company and the dealership.”
This year Ausplow improved the Pro D system with a new V2 closing tool assembly and extended-wear fertilizer shield and boot, allowing for precision granular and liquid delivery.
There’s also a V4 tine assembly with stainless steel fertilizer and seeding tubes for improved handling of mud and sticky clays, new stainless steel liquid delivery manifolds with Friction Flow tubing and stainless steel primary risers.
The top rail of the DBS frame is now 100 x 100mm (previously 100 x 50mm) which enhances strength characteristics by nearly 50 per cent with increased gussets and struts within the frame and new gusseting on the wheel arms. The drawbars also have been strengthened.
p Darren also is a member of the Legislative Council representing the Labor Party. He is currently Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Regional Development; Agriculture and Food; Ports; Minister assisting the Minister for State Development, Jobs and Trade.
Story and photos courtesy Farm Weekly.

Pot of gold awaits DBS owner

category: 
On-Farm

This striking photograph was taken by a DBS customer during seeding, with the comment that he had struck a “pot of gold” using his DBS to establish his crop.
Ausplow has received many comments from owners who have reiterated the performance of the precision seeder, particularly in dry sowing conditions.
In fact much of this year’s program was established dry before the beneficial June rains. With many owners reporting good subsoil moisture there is plenty of confidence going forward.

Managing change in a marginal area

category: 
On-Farm
Bencubbin farmer Nick Gillett has two 60-foot DBS precision seeders for his 10,000-hectare cropping program to ensure he completes his program within the ideal sowing window, which he says gives him the ability to get the crop in and up in marginal moisture conditions.

Bencubbin farmer Nick Gillett has two 60-foot DBS precision seeders for his 10,000-hectare cropping program to ensure he completes his program within the ideal sowing window, which he says gives him the ability to get the crop in and up in marginal moisture conditions.

Managing change is arguably the number one challenge for farmers these days.
And for WA farmer Nick Gillett, who manages an 10,000-hectare cropping program at Bencubbin (275km north east of Perth), it’s the reason he has two 60-foot DBS precision seeders.
“In a nutshell, it gives me the ability to get crop in and up in marginal moisture conditions,” he said.
But timing also plays an important role and Nick has noticed the seasons are getting shorter(dry warm finish, etc).
“Basically 2014 was an extremely tough finish and crop-s sown later than mid-May didn’t perform well,” he said.
“This was the primary reason for going from a 50-ft to 60ft DBS in 2015. Seasons have always been changing, however, 2014 stood out.
“Frost is always a concern but sometimes our last seeded crops are the worst affected,” Nick said. “So it’s hard to farm for frost and you’ve got to stick with yield is king.
“It’s better to set up a potential two tonne crop with the risk of some frost than a 1.4t crop potential and not getting any frost.”
It’s a similar attitude to liquids and near-row sowing.
This year Nick is returning to trialling liquids again, in his marginal area with about 310mm of average rainfall.
“We started with Flexi-N in 2000 and basically did it until 2015,” he said.
“We stopped simply because of the cost differential between Flexi-N and granulated urea, the ease of operator use and the variability of zinc and Flutriafol (fungicide).
“With the latter we were getting build-up inside the nozzle body and sometimes a skin across the filters.
“We found poor tank mix compatibility and it added another complexity level for the operator to check componentry and keep an eye on pressures.”
Nick has two 6000 litre capacity liquid carts to provide a bigger capacity outside of his air seeders and with the acquisition of his second 60-foot DBS, with Friction Flow liquid kit, he hopes he will have time to “play around a bit” with liquid nutrition.
“I think it’s time to go back to liquids but it still depends on the pricing spread between urea and Flexi-N,” he said.
With near-row sowing, Nick says inter-row sowing with RTK has been his management practice since 2006.
“If we’re chasing moisture to get a germination we more often go on-row because our stubble levels aren’t too high,” he said. “But our main aim is to sow in between the rows and maintain our standing stubble.
“On-row is probably less than five per cent of our program and is mainly a tool for the heavier clay type soils where germination can be an issue with small amounts of rain.”
“I know non-wetting can be an issue sowing inter-row but it’s not an issue here because of our soil types and rotations.
“We mostly have Mallee soils running into Salmon Gum clay loams to deeper sands and gravels.
Nick maintains a watchful eye on changes.
“The game changes every year and you try to make little increments of change because it is still hard to know if you’re doing everything correctly,” he said.
“We have proven recipes but the problem is utilising the best recipe for a given season.
“I think the best tools are timeliness and attention to detail."

2020 a focus on liquid nutrients

category: 
On-Farm
Cranbrook farmer Theo Cunningham (left), talks with Ausplow consultant Dr Margaret Roper, Ausplow General Manager Chris Farmer and Managing Director John Ryan AM in a freshly-harvested crop of Planet barley to examine the closeness of the roots to the previous year’s row.

Cranbrook farmer Theo Cunningham (left), talks with Ausplow consultant Dr Margaret Roper, Ausplow General Manager Chris Farmer and Managing Director John Ryan AM in a freshly-harvested crop of Planet barley to examine the closeness of the roots to the previous year’s row.

As we move into a new year, our focus remains on continuing a comprehensive research and development program.
It will be spearheaded by our liquid nutrient trials on our Quairading trial site which have produced promising results from 2019 in a difficult ‘moisture-deprived’ year.
We also will expand trials associated with near-furrow sowing with particular focus on how Cranbrook farmer Theo Cunningham fares with his move this year to maintain the DBS pot plant furrows.
Theo has been one of the early adopters of near-row sowing in 2018 using the ProTrakker guidance hitch attached to his 46 foot (13.9 metres) DBS precision seeder for the past two years. In studying the system, he saw that moving 25mm to the right every year meant an incremental shift away from the original ‘pot plant’ and the inherent nutrients.
So this year he will try a 20mm shift to the left of the furrow and begin an alternating left-right pattern of near-row crop establishment every year, basically maintaining the integrity of the ‘pot plant’.
The ProTrakker was bought in 2015 from WA distributor Burando Hill and after four seasons of use,
Theo says the theory of the benefits of near-row sowing is now solid fact.
“It has given us the ability to establish crops every year during the optimum growing window while minimising the risk of establishment because we’re overcoming non-wetting issues,” he said.
“That gives plants the chance to achieve their yield potential.
“Our average crop yields are slowly creeping up but the best thing is that we are now more confident in our expectations of reliably achieving 1.8 tonnes (a hectare) with canola, three tonnes with wheat and 3.5t/ha with barley.
“These have become realistic figures for our annual budgets.”
In 2019 he established his cereal crops with 50 litres of Flexi-N applied with the seed with Impact and used 1.5L/ha of surfactant SE14, a deep-banded moisture retaining agent.
“We used the SE14 as a risk-aversion tool because even using the ProTrakker you can’t guarantee you’ll sow exactly onto the old root furrow,” Theo said.
“So it’s a bit of insurance to make sure the seed gets away and the roots go straight down if not in, but near the old root furrow.
“The other advantage of using the same row and not disturbing stubbles is that the stubbles act like moisture conduits directing water into the furrow.”
One of Theo’s concerns is the possible increase in diseases but Ausplow trial co-ordinator and micro-biologist Dr Margaret Roper says disease incidence in near-row trials at Munglinup over seven years showed minimal presence.
“It (disease) certainly needs a proper evaluation but our trials show, in the presence of moisture in the old root pathways, beneficial bacteria can flourish,” she said. “Some of these bacteria have the potential to reduce root diseases.”

Using a DBS for 20 years

category: 
On-Farm
Boekeman Machinery Wongan Hills salesmen Ben Boekeman (left) and Ewan McLintock, Nathan Davey, Konnongorring and tractor driver Kane Corsini check out Mr Davey’s new DBS precision seeder, replacing his original DBS which he had for 20 years.

Boekeman Machinery Wongan Hills salesmen Ben Boekeman (left) and Ewan McLintock, Nathan Davey, Konnongorring and tractor driver Kane Corsini check out Mr Davey’s new DBS precision seeder, replacing his original DBS which he had for 20 years.

Kondut farmer Tyler Latham (right) and tractor driver Gil Phillips, Ballidu, take a break during a recent canola program employing a new Ausplow seeding rig and a new Case IH Steiger Quadtrac 550, bought from Boekeman Machinery, Wongan Hills.

Kondut farmer Tyler Latham (right) and tractor driver Gil Phillips, Ballidu, take a break during a recent canola program employing a new Ausplow seeding rig and a new Case IH Steiger Quadtrac 550, bought from Boekeman Machinery, Wongan Hills.

Filling the 1500 litre small seeds box with canola. The new Ausplow Multistream air seeder

Filling the 1500 litre small seeds box with canola. The new Ausplow Multistream air seeder

By KEN WILSON
TWENTY years is a fair test for any seeding bar.
Basically, you’re looking for its ability to sow at the right depth with a high degree of repeatability over a range of soil types and soil conditions.
And in the case of Konnongorring farmer Nathan Davey, a bar than can provide a substantial amount of underseed cultivation, especially in drier years.
For Mr Davey, his 12.2 metre DBS precision seeder ticks those boxes and he believes he wouldn’t be farming but for the DBS.
The claim is made against a backdrop of dry starts, which always can be problematic in achieving good crop germinations.
“It’s the way it just digs in,” Mr Davey said. “You can start a program whenever you want to start and you know you’ll always get accurate seed placement.
“Last year was a good example of a dry start with subsoil moisture present.
“We were able to dig a little deeper and get a strike to wet up the seed bed to germinate the crop.
“This year I regard it as perfect dry conditions with no subsoil moisture so when it rains it’ll all come up at once giving us an even germination.
“It’s a very strong bar and over the past 20 years we’ve ripped out a few big rocks but it hasn’t affected the integrity of the seeding modules.”
When Mr Davey bought his first DBS - number 224 - it was the first in the district and this year he has stepped up to the proverbial plate with a new 1260-48E 12.2metre model on 25cm spacings.
“I got my money back on the trade with Boekeman Machinery in Wongan Hills, so that was a bonus and I’m impressed with the back-up service from Boekeman and Ausplow representatives,” he said.
“The fact the DBS is made by an Australian manufacturer counted a lot in my decision to buy it and they’re only a phone call away if you have any queries.”
The other bonus for Nathan is that the action of the DBS has softened the soil.
“There’s more structure in the soil now and rain is staying where it falls,” he said. “It’s hard to fill the dams these days because of the lack of run-off.
“It has led me to lay out poly pipes and invest in tanks and pumps to get bore water for the stock.”
With his new rig, Mr Davey ordered the Ausplow Pro-D tool system with a liquid kit.
“We’ll deep band the Flexi N for all our program including 600ha of Margarita clover we’re planting for sheep feed,” he said.
Also employing a liquid kit for the first time are Kondut farmers Peter and Michelle Latham and their son Tyler.
They bought a D300-61 DBS (18.3m working width) on 30cm spacings linked to a liquid-compatible Ausplow Multistream tow-between 24,000 litre six bin air seeder, which, according to Boekeman Machinery salesman Tim Boekeman is growing in popularity.
The Lathams also bought a Case IH 550 Steiger Quadtrac with Case autosteer RTK guidance and AccuTurn – the latter is a push-button facility that automatically turns the tractors at end-of-row while lifting the seeding bar from working position before returning it to its original position once the turn has been completed.
According to Mr Latham, he opted for a DBS after his brother bought a model and “I tried it out”.
“I put in half my program with my brother’s DBS and compared it to the other half I established with my Flexi-Coil,” he said.
“The DBS crop had more even germination which told me there was more evenness of sowing depth.
“The DBS also had the ability to dig in deeper in our harder soils creating a good shattering effect to get moisture in.”
The Multistream also was the right fit for the farm program.
“I liked the combination of multiple bins to mix products and the simplicity of it,” he said. “And we had a rig that was one brand and built locally.”
The Multistream, also is variable rate-ready, which the Lathams “will look at down the track”.
According to Mr Latham, the Multistream is easy to use with a single fan splitting air for seed and fertiliser through 125mm-wide hoses to secondary hoses.
“There’s heaps of air and there’s an easy setting to vary the amount of air you want for sed and fertiliser,” he said.
“Calibration is a one-man job and it’s easy and accurate.
“I also like the new auger which has poly flighting in a stainless steel barrel and it runs quiet and is easy to manoeuvre with remote control.”
The Multistream also is fitted with 10 cameras wired to in-cab screens allowing the driver ‘live’ status of the metering rollers, bin levels and the trailing DBS.
“It’s a good rig and we get plenty of support from Boekeman Machinery and Ausplow,” Peter said.
According to Tim Boekeman, interest in the Multistream comes on the back of major improvements, including the stainless-steel auger, which is a purpose design to greatly reduce or eliminate grain damage along with quiet running.
Enhancements also have been made to the safety ladder, step-over and walkway with the option for a range of light kits.
The pump station has been enclosed and is ergonomically positioned for ease of access and servicing.
It also can be retro-fitted to existing Multistream models to convert to liquid or a granular-liquid mix.
Another interesting option is a ProTrakker hitch with electrics supplied by Burando Hill.
In tow-between configuration, the hitch attaches to the DBS for RTK guidance near-row sowing.
And all hydraulic lines are laid out on ‘cable trays’ running the length of the Multistream.
All poly tanks easily convert from granular to liquid reflecting the flexibility of product splits.
The Multistream is available with capacities from 6000 litres to 28,000L.
Interestingly, when it was first released in 2001, it was the world’s first air seeder with liquid capacity. (Courtesy FARM WEEKLY).

DBS and ProTrakker prove right combination

category: 
On-Farm
Cranrook farmer Theo Cunningham (left) and Burando Hill salesman Michael Kowald in front of a healthy GD53 canola crop which was established in April . “We can achieve these sort of crops more consistently now we have a ProTrakker linked to a DBS and liquid injection,” Theo said.

Cranrook farmer Theo Cunningham (left) and Burando Hill salesman Michael Kowald in front of a healthy GD53 canola crop which was established in April . “We can achieve these sort of crops more consistently now we have a ProTrakker linked to a DBS and liquid injection,” Theo said.

Cranbrook farmer Theo Cunningham (left) and Burando Hill salesman Michael Kowald discuss the hydraulic set-up on the ProTrakker guidance system, which is connected to the Cunningham's DBS precision seeder. It's a system growing in popularity to establish crops in the previous year's rows without disturbing stubble.

Cranbrook farmer Theo Cunningham (left) and Burando Hill salesman Michael Kowald discuss the hydraulic set-up on the ProTrakker guidance system, which is connected to the Cunningham's DBS precision seeder. It's a system growing in popularity to establish crops in the previous year's rows without disturbing stubble.

By KEN WILSON
CRANBROOK farmer Theo Cunningham calls the ProTrakker guidance hitch, a game-changer.
It’s a big call but results on the family farm are impressive and Theo, along with his parents Twynam and Elizabeth are convinced it’s a new tool which can provide more consistent crop yields.
Their appraisal of the hydraulically-controlled ProTrakker was measured against a background of issues on the family farm which has moved to 70 per cent cropping (3000ha) mixed with carrying 10,000 sheep, including 6000 Billandri-blood breeding Merino ewes.

With a district average annual rainfall of 500mm, Cranbrook is a safe district, but there still remains non-wetting issues.
The Cunninghams immediately saw the advantage of the ProTrakker - in combination with their Ausplow DBS precision seeder - providing the ability to sow into the previous year’s crop rows without disturbing stubbles (so-called edge-row sowing) and thus overcoming non-wetting problems with the bonus of accessing moisture and residual nutrients.
“Non-wetting was a big reason why we bought the ProTrakker,” Twynam said. “And it also has given us the ability to sow to a date, whether it has rained or not.
“And that’s very important in this environment where getting crops growing and active before winter is difficult if you have too much moisture and low soil temperatures.
“But if you can get the plants away early, they will power away through winter.”
And that will go a long way to raising the bar on their crop yields.

The ProTrakker was bought in 2015 from WA distributor Burando Hill and after three seasons of use, Theo says the theory of the benefits of edge-row sowing is now solid fact.
“It has given us the ability to establish crops every year during the optimum growing window while minimising the risk of establishment,” he said. “That gives plants the chance to achieve their yield potential.

“Our average crops yields are slowly creeping up but the best thing is that we are now more confident in our expectations of reliably achieving 1.8 tonnes (a hectare) with canola, three tonnes with wheat and 3.5t/ha with barley.
“These have become realistic figures for our annual budgets.”
This year provided compelling reasons for the Cunninghams to use the ProTrakker.
Theo said their canola “went in on rain” on April 15 and germinated a week later.
“We didn’t get any more rain until late May but we put our DBS in at seven inches (175 millimetres) and we got a wick-effect by tapping into subsoil moisture.
“We got really even germination which was better than with the spring tine bar we used previously.
“I think the canola that went in on April 15 will be our best crop.”

Theo credits the combination of the Pro Trakker, DBS and use of liquid nutrient injection for the above average crops he will take off in coming weeks.
“I think the ProTrakker paid for itself last year and next year we’re thinking we’ll have the whole game together, using the ProTrakker, DBS, dual shoot and liquid injection” he said. “For us, that’s the meaning of precision farming.”

According to Theo operating the ProTrakker is an easy exercise.
“It’s a simple kit and it took us about 10 minutes to undo the normal hitch and replace it with the ProTrakker hitch,” he said.
Operating on RTK guidance, the hydraulically-operated ProTrakker ensures almost zero bar drift, meaning a sowing tine can be placed millimetres (sub-inch) away from the previous year’s cropping row.

Theo said it was noticeable the “easier going” operating next to old cropping rows rather than the harder inter-row of sandy gravel-over-clay.
“When the ProTrakker is not engaged, you can notice bar drift, particularly on hilly slopes, but when it’s turned on, you can look out the back and see the hitch constantly making slight adjustments to keep the bar straight.”

According to Theo, the ProTrakker will bring with it added flexibility, especially easily adapting to thicker straw in good years.
“We know we will always be able to sow alongside the stubble and dictate exactly where we want our seed to be placed,” he said.
“The trash control is another big feature because we want as much standing as possible to mitigate wind damage and enhance moisture capture.
“There will be a little creep each year but we will still be near the previous year’s furrow.
“In some runs when stubble is a bit thick and not running straight, we can adjust the ProTrakker to sow between rows to keep trash flow going.
‘It’s not a big deal but it means we’re not creating any bulldozing of stubble and I’d rather avoid that and wait until later to work out what we do with the line in that paddock for next year.
“Generally we just go back to the default setting of the previous year.”
(Courtesy Farm Weekly).

Ausplow factory note: A ProTrakker hitch with electrics supplied by Burando Hill is an option on Ausplow’s 2019 Series II Multistream.
In tow-between configuration, the hitch attaches to the DBS for RTK guidance side-furrow sowing.

Standout improvements on the Series II include a stainless-steel auger with poly flighting, which was a purpose design to greatly reduce or eliminate grain damage along with quiet running.
Enhancements also have been made to the safety ladder, step-over and walkway with the option for a range of light kits.
The pump station has been enclosed and is ergonomically positioned for ease of access and servicing.

It can be retro-fitted to existing Multistream models to convert to liquid or a granular-liquid mix.
And all hydraulic lines are laid out on ‘cable trays’ running the length of the Multistream.
All poly tanks easily convert from granular to liquid and there’s a lot of flexibility in product splits.
The Multistream is available with capacities from 6000 litres to 28,000L.

DBS shines showing benefits in dry sowing

category: 
On-Farm
Boekeman Machinery Dalwallinu branch manager James Mitchell (left) and Buntine farmer Mike Dodd, discuss the Pro-D blades and leading coulters on Mike’s DBS precision seeder.

Boekeman Machinery Dalwallinu branch manager James Mitchell (left) and Buntine farmer Mike Dodd, discuss the Pro-D blades and leading coulters on Mike’s DBS precision seeder.

By KEN WILSON
HINDSIGHT always provides lessons.
And one that Buntine farmer Mike Dodd recalled recently was his decision to buy a seeding rig in 2008.
The context was that he was coming off a drought and money was tight. And throw in the Global Financial Crisis.
“I was in the market for a seeding rig and I was deciding between a 60 foot (18.2 metres) DBS and a spring tine 60 foot overseas model,” he said. “I went for the overseas model, with the bar, bin and liquid cart leaving $35,000 in my pocket.
“But I should have paid the $35,000 and got a DBS.”
The reason for that comment was that he bought a DBS in 2017 and it has taken only two seasons to see the benefits in terms of even crop germination and higher yields.
In 2016, he bought a liquid-compatible Ausplow Multistream air seeder to replace a tow-behind liquid cart and a tow-Between airseeder cart so it felt like a natural progression to add the DBS to the Multistream the following year.
“We generally dry sow at the start to get our program in during the optimum sowing window,” Mike said. “And in the first year the crop was very even and I’d never seen it like that.
“It was very obvious the difference between having hydraulic tines on the DBS as against the spring tines which tended to chatter in dry working.
“When it rained you’d see more staggered germinations which showed the variations in seed depth because of the spring tine and sowing boots.
“With the DBS, the parallelogram module gives you more scope in tight country where the press wheel and parallelogram can operate at a different angle but it doesn’t affect the set seeding depth.
“And having the ability to dig deeper without affecting seed depth is huge.”
Interestingly, Mike said there were no problems seeding with the DBS on deep ripped sandplain, even though it was fitted with leading coulters to cut trash and create a better stubble flow.
Tines spacings were 300 millimetres (12 inches) and the upgrade to the wider flotation tyres on the bar really helped.
“This did change, however, post-rainfall but an hour fine-tuning the bar level soon sent us on our way,” Mike said.
Coil packers were employed behind the Ausplow deep ripper so there was a measure of firmness in the topsoil.
“We’ve got the Pro-D blades so we can adjust them to work between seven and nine inches (175 millimetres and 225mm) and that’s easily achieved without compromising seed depth,” Mike said.
“We started dry sowing on April 19 this year working at eight inches (200mm) but I think in a few years we’ll be down to nine inches (225mm) because I think the deeper you can go the better.”
Having said that Mike admitted the deeper working caused canola seed to go in deeper.
“We should have used the canola boot,” he said. “We wanted 5-10mm but we ended up seeding at 15-20mm.
“It was slow away but when it rained it all came up and the germination was pretty even, though the deeper-sown stuff was probably a week behind the neighbour’s canola.”
With an opening rain on May 25, Mike said the dry sowing paid off with the crop now set up.
“We just need a good finishing rain,” he said.
Mike also is happy using the 19,500 litre capacity Multistream, with five tanks.
This year he used 50 litres a hectare of Flexi-N and considered the Friction Flow tubing kit supplied by Furrow Management Systems as “brilliant”.
“We didn’t get any blockages, which takes one less hassle out of the equation,” he said. (With kind permission FARM WEEKLY).

The 'Clayton's Rip' with a DBS

category: 
On-Farm
East Latham farmers Mark (left) his wife Suzanna and son Tom talk with Boekeman Machinery Dalwallinu salesman Wayne Stoner.

East Latham farmers Mark (left) his wife Suzanna and son Tom talk with Boekeman Machinery Dalwallinu salesman Wayne Stoner.

Ausplow Sales and Marketing Manager Chris Blight checks this DBS and Multistream rig at East Latham, delivered by local dealers Boekeman Machinery. Chris said the owner was happy with the new rig, set on 30cm (12in) spacings. While training schools are a priority for the Ausplow team, there's nothing like getting out in the paddock with owners to discuss the machine's performance.

Ausplow Sales and Marketing Manager Chris Blight checks this DBS and Multistream rig at East Latham, delivered by local dealers Boekeman Machinery. Chris said the owner was happy with the new rig, set on 30cm (12in) spacings. While training schools are a priority for the Ausplow team, there's nothing like getting out in the paddock with owners to discuss the machine's performance.

WA farmer Mark Wilson can testify to the long term benefits of using a DBS. The East Latham farmer, who farms 4700ha with his wife Suzanne and son Tom, recently traded in a 10.9 metre (36ft) Ausplow DBS precision seeder on a new 18m (59ft) model and a five tank 22,600 litre Ausplow Multistream liquid-ready, air seeder. The deal was completed by Boekeman Machinery, Dalwallinu. Interestingly, with 14 years working the DBS to a depth of about 20cm (8in), they have created a “Clayton’s rip” throughout the farm. “The soil is softer and we don’t have any compaction problems,” Mark said. “But our issue on these mainly wodgil soils is acid and we’re applying a lot of lime (6t/ha over 10 years) to elevate soil pH and that’s working well.” Mark also opted for widening row spacings from 26cm (10in) to 30cm (12in). As Mark explains, there’s only so much moisture to go around, with 60-65mm of summer rainfall on the family farm in February, with nothing since. “In marginal moisture conditions, we found on 10 inch spacings there was a lot more competition in the row with plants using too much moisture too quickly and sometimes we found crops bursting out, looking really good then crashing, in a dry spell,” he said. “On the wider spacings, it tends to stretch the moisture availability and plants will hold on longer. “I would say in wetter areas, 10 inch spacings would work better than 12 inch. “Basically, by going to 12 inch spacings, we want to get more from less and stop the plants growing as quickly in marginal moisture conditions.” The second strategy for going to wider spacings was to prevent soil throw into adjacent rows. “Due to our softer soils, with the 10 inch spacings too much soil was being thrown into the next row which basically covered the seed again and changed the seed depth. “The 12 inch spacings also allows us to band all pre-emergent chemicals completely between the row giving the crop a chemical-free environment to start. “We have very few weeds coming up in the row due to no stock for the last 16 years.” “The result of the seed depth being changed was staggered germinations and in some cases where it was really bad we only got about 20 per cent of the crop coming up. “It meant operating at 7km/h and slowing down the program, whereas now we’re on about 8km/h-plus which has quickened things up a bit more. “Last year it took us five weeks to put in the crop working six days a week on 24 hour shifts. “This year because we’ve got a wider bar, we’re at a less frenetic pace working 18 hour shifts and covering more ground, aiming for 200ha a day.” “Before, if you got 150ha done you’d say it was a good day.” The new bar comes with the Pro-D tool system, which essentially is a bolt-less tool assembly comprising an adjustable DBS blade and shrouded fertiliser boot and a new closing tool. The 90mm (3.5in)-wide press wheel (135mm, 5.5in, width is optional) is equipped with a so-called mud rib, or scraper, with vertical arms placing the scraper lower on the wheel for a quicker ‘attack” at any mud build-up. (In all likelihood, the Wilsons won’t be able to appraise that feature this year). But Mark likes the adjustable Pro-D system. “We went for a seven (17.5cm) to nine inch (22.5cm) blade, which is adjusted to dig around seven inches,” he said. “When it starts to wear, we can easily adjust it down another inch to maintain the seven inch working depth and repeat that again, so effectively we’ve got three blades in one.” The five bin tow-between Multistream also was given the thumbs up. It is employed in a four-one configuration with four bins holding seed and “starter” granular fertiliser and the fifth bin used for UAN liquid fertiliser and trace elements. “We decided to use Friction Flow tubing to deep band the UAN and it has worked extremely well with no blockages up to date,” Tom said. A remote control allows easy auger clean-out after filling the bins and cameras are employed in the top and bottom of the bins to monitor bin levels and product being metered out. Cameras also have been mounted directly behind the Multistream for instant viewing on the console in the tractor cab where sight is obscured by the box. The Multistream fan is hydraulically-controlled and with such a big rig, all six remotes are employed on the Case IH Steiger 4WD tractor which has a power rating of 448kW (600hp) with a power boost to 485kW (650hp). “When we are working in light soils it operates in seventh gear between 1600 and 1650rpm, while in hard red soils we flick down to sixth gear with revs between 1800 and 1850rpm,” Tom said. Overall, Mark is happy with the DBS and its ability to provide underseed cultivation, place the seed accurately and provide a water-harvesting furrow. “It’s a premium price but I’m willing to pay that because it works and there’s a great deal of peace of mind knowing that seeds are being planted exactly where you want them,” he said. “Having owned a DBS for the last 14 years and Ausplow being a local WA company, we already know the backup service will be second to none.” (Reproduced with kind permission from Farm Weekly). Mark is happy to speak with farmers about his experiences with the Ausplow rig. You can contact him on 0427 611 111.

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