Rewards reaped from bigger, better seeding gear in WA

Grain Central, September 13, 2023

Josh McBeath (centre), McIntosh & Son Geraldton, with Terry and Jeff Cockman, Allanooka, and a Morris 9682 air cart with input control technology for section control. The family is looking forward to receiving a similar air cart for seeding next year that will be hitched to their Morris C3 Contour Drill. Photo: McIntosh & Son

THE Cockman family have a history steeped in the crayfishing industry out of Dongara and they are now leaving no stone, or soil, unturned in their farming efforts in WA’s northern wheatbelt.

The family initially purchased livestock and cropping properties in the Mingenew area before transitioning to their current Lucky Plains property at Allanooka, where next year the cropping
program will grow to 7500ha, and they will continue to run cattle and a reduced number of sheep.

Brendan Cockman and his partner Hanna Bishop farm with Brendan’s parents, Jeff and Fiona, grandparents, Terry and Betty, his aunty, Jenny Cockman, and two cousins, Nick Sgambuluri and Jayden Owen, at the property.

They grow canola, wheat and lupins over mostly continuously cropped areas that comprises sand-over-gravel soils, including significant non-wetting country.

The family established a strong relationship with the McIntosh & Son team at Geraldton to assist
their foray into farming, particularly with seeding and harvesting equipment requirements.

This relationship has continued as they have fine-tuned the productivity and efficiency of their operations and looked to adopt latest technologies.

For seeding, the Cockmans invested in a 12m Morris Quantum air drill and 17,828-litre 9365 air
cart before later adding an 18m Quantum and 30,962L 9682 air cart with variable rate technology.

They then jumped to a 27m Morris C3 Contour drill and another system change is on the way for 2024, involving an upgrade to a 9682 air cart with both VRT and Morris Input Control Technology to prevent seeding overlap.

The complete rig will be pulled by a 600-horsepower New Holland T9.670 tractor on the manufacturer’s SmartTrax tracks.

Brendan Cockman said they had maintained a strong focus on spading and Plozza ploughing their difficult soils, and the return to one seeding rig would allow them to complete as much soil amelioration as possible while running two 12-hour shifts with the seeder.

The Cockmans use the Root Boot paired-row kits at 30-centimetre tyne spacings and have been
impressed with the trash flow handling of the Morris bars.

They also have adopted cross sowing to further assist trash flow, handling up to 4.5 tonne/ha wheat stubbles and 2t/ha canola stubbles.

Mr Cockman said seed placement continued to be ideal on the ameliorated country and their bars
featured a host of technologies including:

  • Auto-Pack for automatic variable pressure packing;
  • Auto-Lift for automatically lifting and lowering the openers at headlands;
  • Blockage monitoring with the Recon wireless blockage and flow monitor from Farmscan, which monitors every line; and,
  • End-of-row turning via New Holland’s IntelliView 12 guidance and the Topcon X35 controller.

The Auto-Pack ensures correctly closed and packed furrows and has been effective even where seed
has been placed shallow.

“The germination and establishment have been pretty good, especially where we have spaded,” Mr Cockman said.

He said VRT had proved effective after initially setting up paddock zones based on 10 years of
biomass imagery before adding soil testing and yield data, and they were now looking forward to
achieving further efficiencies and input savings with ICT next season.

“VRT made sense and we noticed better crop performance, with better yields in the better zones.”

“With the 9682 for next year, we did the numbers on the ICT and we won’t be wasting so much seed
and fertiliser.

“There is so much overlap on our long rectangular paddocks.”

Liquid fertiliser applied via the cart is controlled by the fully integrated GEN 5 Liquid Systems

The system includes all hydraulics, valving, electronics, filtering and pressure gauging and
provides accurate and even distribution of liquids.

Brendan said the Morris bars and carts and their associated technologies had been easy to operate
and they also highly appreciated the support from the McIntosh & Son Geraldton team.

“Especially with everything running off the Topcon, it is so user-friendly.”

“The McIntosh team have been great and we have become good friends with them.”

Martins increasing rig size

At Gunyidi, north of Watheroo, the Martin family is also looking forward to increasing the size of its Morris seeding rig for next season through McIntosh & Son at Moora.

Serge and Alex Martin grow wheat, canola, lupins and some barley over medium to light sands and sandy gravel soils at their Warrooga Farming property.

They initially stepped from a decade-old Bourgault seeding rig into a 12m Morris Quantum air drill
and 17,828L 9365 air cart with VRT, and next year will sow their crops with an 18m Quantum, which
also will aid a move toward controlled traffic farming, and a 24,347L air cart with both VRT and ICT.

Mr Martin said the original attraction to Morris followed a seeding comparison trial at Badgingarra, where the Morris C2 Contour drill achieved higher plant numbers than an Equalizer bar and John Deere air hoe drill.

He said the quick upgrade to the larger Morris system would help reduce their seeding program period, which was more than 30 days this season, and the new rig would be pulled by a New Holland T9 Series tractor.

The Martins have used the Morris paired-row boots at 30cm spacings, but will be switching to the
Root Boot for next year.

They also have had a positive experience with the Auto-Pack and Auto-Lift technologies, which will continue with the new system.

“The Quantum is a good flotation bar and the Auto-Pack has been very good and provides probably a
5-10 per cent benefit.

“It’s better to sow canola dry to avoid crusting, but once you are into the larger seeds, it is a very
good machine and packs really, really well.

“In the sand, it reduces the pressure, allowing less wear and tear on your gear and providing better

“We also do heaps of deep ripping and have completed some spading, mouldboard ploughing and
Plozza ploughing.”

He said the Quantum can keep consistent seeding depth over deep-ripped country, and its precision allows adjustment of every tyne.

“In years where you want to get lupins in deeper, you can.”

The new air cart on order will also feature the GEN 5 Liquid Systems console and Mr Martin said their
experience with the metering accuracy and VRT provided with the Morris air carts had been excellent.

He said easy operation was another important factor for their seeding employees.

“Keeping everything simple is easy for staff.”

Source: McIntosh & Son


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