Clermont district farmer Col Messer was looking to improve accuracy and efficiency in planting of summer crops in his rain grown minimum tillage farming system. Sorghum has been the predominant summer crop option in his area, but dryland corn and cotton have also become popular alternatives in the Central Highlands.
This has left many growers like Col in a planting predicament. He required the versatility and robustness of a tine planter, that is suited to variable field soil types and has moisture seeking capability, but also needed the precision seed metering performance normally found on a double disc row crop planter. Col engaged Andrew Farquharson at Toowoomba Engineering Services to build a planter that could achieve this. Using his experience from both farming and practising agronomic consulting in Central Queensland, Andrew could see the benefits of integrating the John Deere Max Emerge precision seed metering capabilities onto the top of a traditional “air seeder” tine assembly. Toowoomba Engineering Services worked closely with Steve Frahm of VNET and John Fraser from Vanderfield Toowoomba parts department to achieve this.
Col’s wish list didn’t end there! To gain maximum return on investment, the planter also required multiple GPS control functions to automate the crop inputs being applied. Steve Frahm worked closely with Col over 12 months to understand his requirements and then create a practical “turn key” solution using components from both John Deere and other Vanderfield suppliers.
To achieve inter row seeding capability, the planter required Active Implement Guidance. Although the tractor was already fitted with Greenstar SF2 5cm Autotrac capability, the planter’s castor wheels also needed to steer on Greenstar GPS for precise seed placement. The planter needed to be capable of applying two liquid products over a range of field speeds with accurate rate control from the Greenstar GPS. This allows accurate application of liquid fertiliser or seed innoculants in a range of applied volumes.
The planter needed to have the same “Section Control” capabilities of a John Deere Spray Rig, to eliminate double application of seed and fertiliser. Col could see major savings from this due to the fact a 27 metre wide planter was going to be used in fields with multiple point headlands creating a high percentage of overlap. The planter’s 5 sections have automated liquid fertiliser on/off control and also individual row command on the Max Emerge seeding units, all automated through the Greenstar system.
Seed monitoring, including individual row singulation data is also monitored through the Greenstar display using Intelliag ISO software.
Col now has confidence that his custom planter design will increase profitability through input savings and allow flexibility to plant a range of different crops over a wider seasonal window.
"The technology that has been fitted to this machine has achieved my specific needs. Stephen Frahm and the VNET team know how to listen and work with you to deliver extra value on my GPS investment.
Using John Deere section control has given me an immediate pay back, with 10 to 20% saving on seed and fertilizer inputs in my fields planted so far. The individual row command on the John Deere summer planting units stop planting when that unit passes over ground already planted. This also has other benefits like reduced likelihood of crop lodging of sorghum on headlands.
Next summer I hope to be planting some fields using the John Deere Greenstar variable rate technology. Using the Soil EM Maps collected by VNET and Yield Maps from my John Deere 9770 harvester, I will be able to apply a fertilizer prescription and seeding rate matched to the yield potential of each part of the field."