Is this the next 'revolution' in seeding technology?

No pressure but Auto-Pack hailed as new game changer in seeding

Machinery
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Duncan Murdoch believes tillage and seeding equipment is on the edge of another revolution with Auto-Pack.

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BUILDING THE FUTURE: John Branton, tillage assembly team leader at McIntosh Distribution, and the company's Duncan Murdoch busy working on the latest Morris C3 Contour drills.

BUILDING THE FUTURE: John Branton, tillage assembly team leader at McIntosh Distribution, and the company's Duncan Murdoch busy working on the latest Morris C3 Contour drills.

Duncan Murdoch has seen a few revolutions in tillage and seeding gear and he now believes we're on the cusp of another one.

Mr Murdoch, 55, has worked with manufacturers in sales of ground-engaging implements at the farmgate and now works for McIntosh Distribution which handles the Morris range of tillage and seeding products in Australia.

"Since I was a kid we have had several revolutions in seeding bars,'' Mr Murdoch said.

"In the very early days we had the shift from combines to cultivator bars and air seeders.

"Then we had to make the bars reliable - cracked frames, poor hydraulics and poor flotation were commonplace.

GROWING STRONG: Pictured left are emerging canola plants south of Corrigin in WA after seeding on May 20 with a Morris Quantum drill set on 25cm spacings and with Auto-Pack variable pressure packing and the same crop on the right on July 1. The crop did not receive any follow-up fertiliser and 70-80mm of rain was recorded from May 20 to July 1.

GROWING STRONG: Pictured left are emerging canola plants south of Corrigin in WA after seeding on May 20 with a Morris Quantum drill set on 25cm spacings and with Auto-Pack variable pressure packing and the same crop on the right on July 1. The crop did not receive any follow-up fertiliser and 70-80mm of rain was recorded from May 20 to July 1.

"Then we made them wider and made them handle more trash. Finally, we got the air kits working properly, we got the bars to seed at the right depth and we got them to dig.''

The industry, however, was about to take the next major step and that was variable pressure packing with Auto-Pack, he said.

"Auto-Pack allows operators to set the desired packing pressure on press wheels and then it maintains it constantly by varying the hydraulic pressure on the opener assembly as soil conditions change across paddocks.

"We all know correct packing pressure is critical for effective soil-seed contact and establishing capillary action to draw moisture up from deeper in the soil profile to the seed bed.

"This requires different packing pressures in different soil conditions. Too much packing pressure in dry sands or wet clays can result in surface sealing, hindering germination.

"Too little packing pressure in dry clays or loams won't press out the soil clods sufficiently to close the furrow, exposing any available soil moisture to evaporation. Not pressing out the clods also reduces soil-seed contact and limits capillary action.

"Auto-Pack creates the most ideal seed germination environment possible. Correctly closed and packed furrows reduce the risk of the available moisture bank evaporating which is now recognised as critical, particularly with the shift to dry seeding.''

The new technology was first seen on the Morris Quantum air drills and is now available with the latest release 80-foot (24-metre) and 90ft (27m) Morris C3 Contour drills.

These also feature Morris's parallel linkage with the 1:1 opener to packer ratio, ensuring precise depth control and ground following.

Mr Murdoch said progressive growers were quickly understanding and recognising the benefits of variable pressure packing with Auto-Pack.

"They have commented that nothing gets a crop out of the ground quite like it on virtually no moisture at all,'' he said.

The Morris Quantum and C3 drills not only prepare an ideal root zone for germinating seed but the correctly packed furrow maximises any subsoil moisture via capillary action and further improves depth control, he said.

"Every square inch gets up and crops then get to two to three-leaf quickly and evenly compared with some paddocks 'over the fence' that still haven't germinated,'' Mr Murdoch said.

Meanwhile, air kits also have been further advanced with an Australian-made design available with the latest Morris drills allowing easier configuration with bars, which helps achieve the best product delivery possible, he said.

The high-end kits comprise extensive use of stainless steel, allowing the lowest levels of friction, thereby significantly reducing the energy requirement to move product through the system.

Stainless steel also improves resistance to wear and corrosion.

Fully integrated blockage monitoring systems also have been further developed in Australia to suit each Morris Quantum and C3 drill. These blockage systems are reliable, section aware for those farmers using Input Control Technology (ICT) for section control, and do not require doubling up on monitors or harnessing.

"What we are offering is the complete, integrated package for growers. It's been tested and the Auto-Lift, Auto-Pack, ICT and blockage monitoring all work together on one screen, keeping tractor cab layout and vision at an optimum,'' Mr Murdoch said.

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