Hello ReaderWe made serious progress on seeding last week and we’re nearing the 60% complete mark for our area. Rain over the weekend did put seeding to a halt with rain totaling 10mm to 35 mm. Another big push and many will finish up planting by early next week. Yes, we’re a little behind schedule, but so are the heat units to date. The calendar says we’re late but the buds on the trees say we’re right on time.
This week I’ll announce my new role as an advisor to the Clean Seed Capital team, who are about to launch a revolutionary new air drill in the Canadian market. Next, I’ll review the CX-6 Smart Seeder drill to refresh you on its capabilities. I’ll summeraize how you can create your own narrow row spacing trials in cereals to help answer that nagging question of yield loss from wide rows. We’ll finish with a new technique to help measure nitrogen loss on your own farm under your current nitrogen management strategy. We’ll finish with technical grain market news.
Have a great week.
Pictured above: Running late; inter-rowing peas on wheat stubble, May 10, 2014, near Michichi, AB. Photo credit: Matt Rowbottom
Clean Seed Capital advisory board announcementI’ve recently accepted a seat with the Clean Seed Capital advisory board as they launch their revolutionary new air drill called the CX-6 Smart Seeder. I truly believe the design will help revolutionize the seeding tool industry. For the longest time, my wish list for an air drill included a hybrid planter-air drill that combined the benefits of both technologies. Clean Seed Capital has done that and they will be launching the CX-6 at the Farm Progress show in Regina. I can’t wait for the reveal!
Photo source: Clean Seed Capital
Revolutionary air drill to launch in 2014
CX 6 Smart Seeder by Clean Seed CapitalThe technological advancements in seeding tools have been nothing short of amazing over the last decade. From on-row depth control, sectional control, variable rate drives to improvements in metering and scale. Even with all the advancements, there is still a lot of room for improvement. For example, a 15% +/- difference in seed and fertilizer delivery at each shank is considered acceptable according to PAMI (source). So one shank might apply 100 lbs N/ac and the shank beside it may only apply 80-85 lbs N/ac. Is this really acceptable? See BA News article on air delivery systems here.
Air delivery systems will always struggle to deliver product accurately because they meter seed and fertilizer with variable densities under pressure, push product of various sizes down varying lengths of primary hoses, only to hit manifolds that distribute product into secondary hoses that vary up to 50% in length down to the seed boot. It’s any wonder that anything less than 15% +/- is considered acceptable. Acceptable until now that is, with the introduction of the CX6 Smart Seeder drill.
The CX6 Smart Seeder drill is a game changing, revolutionary drill that promises to solve a lot of today’s issues with metering, delivery, sectional control and get this, on the go filling! Picture this, seed and fertilizer are delivered from the 430-bushel on-board air cart to each shank where six individual electric motors meter up to six products right above the opener. A foam roller that looks like a cog wheel grabs the seed and fertilizer and drops it via gravity into one of three openings in the triple shoot and that is also fully adjustable, paired row openers. The technology is equipped to variable rate six products on each shank, has sectional control, turn compensation and variable rate down pressure to control depth and packing pressure on each opener. Did I mention this is all controlled via wireless technology? No wires from the cab!
The second unbelievable feature on this drill is on-the-go filling, which virtually eliminates fill times. The drill comes equipped with a tow-behind 430-bushel tank that is designed to refill the front tank while you seed. When the back tank is empty, a simple unhook switch from the cab allows you to drop the tank off at the end of the field where a highway tractor can tow it back to the yard for refilling. A winch design behind the drill lets you hook the back tank up again and continue the cycle of refilling on the go. So, no more tandems, B-trains or special filling carts to fill the drill with next to no downtime.
Check out this video outlining the CX6 Smart Seeder design.
Here are the solutions this drill provides:
- Seed and fertilizer are metered above the shank where it’s delivered to the opener by gravity, eliminating air flow issues.
- A cutting disk ahead of the tyne cuts residue and creates a channel for the tyne to flow through, improving residue flow.
- Equal metering from opener to opener; no distortion from manifolds to randomly divide seed.
- More uniform distribution down each row without air flow to bunch seeds (ie. peas, canola).
- Overlap eliminated, less delay from meter to seed allows more accurate off/on times, and independent opener off/on rather than sections.
- Accurate metering in non-linear travel. Turn compensation.
- Ability to apply high resolution prescription. Less delay in delivery gives a more accurate application position, turn compensation, and individual independent opener metering.
- Depth control by prescription. (Don't underestimate the value in this one.)
- Six-product capability- the shuttle cart makes it logistically feasible to do it.
- Refill on the go. Huge efficiency gain in downtime, no extra trailers required, no conveyors, or augers in the field.
- Shuttle cart handles six products and also can be used to change products in the field. For example, if you want to switch from durum to wheat, no need to take the drill home to clean out. No extra truck required in the field.
- Shuttle cart frees up man power in that it takes two men to move a truck to the field, only one to position the shuttle.
Photo source: Clean Seed Capital
Create your own narrow row spacing trialFor those of us who plant on wider row spacing (10-12 inch) there is always a nagging question in the back of our minds. Are we giving up yield by planting on wider rows and how much yield would that be compared to narrow rows? There is a plethora of research pointing to higher yields with narrower row spacing. Our agronomy practices have changed since the research was done a decade or two ago, so is that still the case? Well, we’re going to try and find out this year.
Mitch and I decided to compare 6-inch rows to our 12-inch row spacing with a crude but workable method of achieving 6-inch row spacing. We have a 2-inch side band GEN opener on 12-inch spacing and a 3-inch offset hitch. To simulate 6-inch row spacing we simply ran down and back on the same run. In our CTF system, we could simulate 6-inch row spacing and still remain on the tramlines. Is it crude? Yes, but it will give us a clue whether or not we need to pursue further trials.
Very few people have offset hitches or CTF systems but you can still do your own trials at home. Here’s what I learned from our attempt at creating narrow rows.
- Find some canola or pea stubble, silage stubble or anything that will not dislodge severely when you drive over the same run twice.
- Cut your seed and fertilizer rate in half to simulate a full rate of your seed and fertilizer program. 50% + 50% = 100% of seed and fert.
- Nudge the GPS 3 inches one way then seed down and back on the same run on 12-inch spacing or 2.5 inches on 10-inch spacing.
- Slow down slightly to handle the residue from dislodged stubble.
- Move nudge back to zero and return to your normal seed and fertilizer rate. That’s an important one!
Pictured above: 12-inch rows (top), 6-inch rows (bottom). Source: S. Larocque
A new tool to measure nitrogen use efficiencyWe’ve long assumed that banding urea helps reduce the risk of losing nitrogen as a gas through volatilization compared to broadcast nitrogen. Research from Rochette et al 2008 in Quebec discovered that banded urea is actually not safe from volatilization, and in some cases shallow banded urea can increase nitrogen loss. Without going into great detail, banded urea creates a spike in the pH around the band of urea. The spike in pH causes nitrogen to preferentially exist as ammonia gas. Once the ammonia is lost through soil pores, it is then replaced by another NH3 (ammonia) molecule and the cycle continues until the pH levels out or you run out of free nitrogen. To read more about this topic click here.
The chart above shows the nitrogen lost as NH3 (lbs/N/ac) from broadcast urea versus UAN dribbled, UAN side dressed and urea with Agrotain and UAN with Agrotain. In this example, the side dressed UAN and urea with agrotain showed the lowest amount of loss. The little black dot on the left shows 25mm of rain after application which is considered ideal.
Here is a simple, low cost technique for measuring nitrogen losses from banded urea or NH3 or even manure. This tool can help growers understand the level of nitrogen loss in their current systems and work toward better nitrogen use efficiency. With many farms spending between $40 and $60 acre on nitrogen costs, small gains in efficiency are worth the effort.
The technique followed was based on experiences of Ontario extension staff.
- Immediately after N application the zone is covered with a chamber with ventilation holes. Plastic recycling boxes with 40-50 holes to allow air exchange work well.
- Inside the chamber a glass “dosimeter tube or dositube”(#3D, Gastec Corporation) is held on a small stake, about 6-inches above the soil surface. Break off the tip of the tube to allow NH3 to enter.
- The dositube contains purple packing material (containing sulphuric acid) that turns yellow when it reacts with NH3 in the air (becoming ammonium sulphate). The tube is marked in NH3 ppm/hr which gives an index of NH3 loss.
- Tubes are read at 1-2 day intervals to give a cumulative total proportional to actual losses.
- With an anemometer recording wind speed at a 30 cm (12 inch) height, the NH3 ppm/hr reading can be converted to lb N/ac using this formula:
I know I’ll be testing out shallow banded urea with low draft openers, NH3 versus urea, mid-row banding versus side banding and my side dress toolbar versus streaming on UAN. This tool has the potential to really help understand nitrogen use efficiencies from many of the nitrogen products we use and how we apply them. Talk to your local agronomist or crop consultant and get started on measuring your nitrogen use efficiency this year. Good luck! SL
Source: Rochette’s work on banded urea losses: https://scisoc.confex.com/
The charts I use take a short and long term look at whether the market is oversold, neutral or overbought. I use charts as a way to pull the trigger, not to determine the best price.
Canola Nov 14: The long term trend is down and the short term trend is up.
HRS Wheat: Dec 14: The short term trend is up and the long term trend is down.
Corn Dec 13: The short term trend is up and the long term trend is down.
Soybeans: Nov 14: The short term trend is up and the long term trend is down.
Canadian $: Jun 14: The short term trend is up and the long term trend is down.
USD: Jun 14: The short and the long term trends are down.