Improved seedbed pays off despite dry early conditions

Grain Central, June 23, 2023

Wyalkatchem grower Campbell Jones with his planting rig.

THE ability to chase moisture and accurately place seed during dry sowing conditions is paying big
early crop dividends for the Jones family near Wyalkatchem in Western Australia.

The Jones’ recorded one of their best ever crop-production seasons in 2022 and after solid recent
rainfall following a dry period, crops are again establishing well this year and the annual rainfall total
is now more than 100mm higher than at the same time last year.

“The crops are coming away nicely,” Campbell Jones said.

“We received more rain for April-May last year and the canola was more even, but we are now over 100mm above last year and ahead of the last five years, so it is significant.

“An extra 100mm will help come September.

“Later-sown crops took a little longer with the cooler temperatures, but most were up at the end of May and are looking good.

“To receive 60mm at the start of June, you can’t ask for anything better.

“We also threw some urea out before the recent rains, so we have been very lucky.”

Campbell Jones and family have cropped 5000ha this year.

The family has cropped 5000ha to canola, wheat and barley and also is managing 1300ha of chemical fallow this season to prepare for canola production over the area next year.

The program was sown with a 12-metre Morris Quantum air drill configured with a double-chute seeding kit and a 22,600-litre Morris 9445 air cart incorporating a liquid tank and featuring the
manufacturer’s input control technology (ICT).

Flexi-N liquid and Crop Builder 18 granular fertilisers are placed at the bottom of the seeding trench and cereal seed is normally sown at a depth of about 20mm and 75mm above the fertiliser, while canola seed is placed on the surface and pushed into the ground via the air drill’s press wheels.

The Jones’ previously used an 18m seeding bar, but returned to a 12m working width to adopt a genuine controlled-traffic farming system initially via another bar before upgrading to the Quantum air drill.

“The Quantum is our first hydraulic tine bar and it has achieved better seed placement and a decent
seedbed in tougher conditions.

“With the other bars, we wouldn’t have got half the crop up this year.”

The family’s Morris Quantum air drill also includes Auto-Lift and Auto-Pack control technology.

The Auto-Lift allows automatic lifting and lowering of tines at the end of seeding runs, while the Auto-Pack automatically adjusts packing pressure to achieve correctly packed furrows, an ideal seedbed and to draw moisture into the trench via capillary action.

“After receiving 88mm of rain from March 27 to April 1 and then less than 11mm for eight weeks
over seven events, it became hit and miss getting to moisture as we got to the back end of our
seeding program, so we just kept dropping the depth down to put it onto moisture.

“We ended up dropping the seeding depth to about 50mm.

Wyalkatchem grower Campbell Jones indicates the depth at which his Morris Quantum unit has planted the 2023 crop.

“We have got some varying soil types and paddocks that have been deep ripped, but we were
constantly getting the 80 kilograms of tine pressure that it was set at.

“As more pressure comes on, the tine will kick back and it will apply that breakout pressure.

“In lighter country it might require 350 psi and in heavier country it can go up to 1000-1200 psi, but it’s
getting 80kg on the press wheel and that helps maintain the uniformity.”

He said they had achieved excellent crop germinations in recent years.

“This year we really tested it out with the Quantum and we are very happy with it. We were able to
maintain that depth and with the packing pressure we managed to get a strike.”

“We were able to dig below the seedbed and we managed to get the moisture to come up to help
germinate the seed.”

Campbell said the strength of the Morris Quantum air drill, delivered by its unique interlocking,
laser-cut tubular frame, also continued to impress him.

“We have never had any problems and it’s going to last for years and years,” Campbell said.

Meanwhile, the larger capacity Morris 9445 air cart has allowed the Jones’ to increase their seeding
shifts from eight hours to 12 hours before refilling, while the ICT, in addition to variable rate
technology, has contributed to further product savings.

The Morris Quantum air drill also is now available in a new 24m working width for the 2024 season
and is expected to be unveiled at field days later this year. For further information about the air
drills, growers can contact their nearest dealer.

Source: McIntosh Distribution


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