News / Events

Getting wider with Morris C2 Contour Drill to capture the moisture (Farm Weekly Article)

07 April 2016

Farm Weekly – 7 April 2016 (pages 34 – 36)

Getting wider to capture the moisture

By Ken Wilson

 Morawa farmer Darren Agar (left) with McIntosh & Son salesman Johel Mitchell. Darren says there's a method to the apparent madness of sowing on 37.5cm (15in) tine spacings.

“The Contour 2 goes a bit faster (8.5-10km/h, depending on soil conditions) and being wider I’m also getting a bit more productivity” – Darren Agar.

ANYTHING that can reduce moisture loss in broadacre farming will get a farmer’s attention.

Particularly if you’re farming in a low rainfall zone like Morawa farmer Darren Agar.

Interestingly the district rainfall average is 337mm, illustrating just how important every millimetre of rain is to a predominantly York Gum duplex, sand and gravel-over-clay region.

Arguably, the region would be an absolute farming Mecca if graced with more rain.

The late Ernie Bridge, a one-time Agriculture Minister, once told this writer of the potential pivot irrigation would have for the area, because of the fertile soils.

It’s all academic when you touch down again to the reality.

But little steps can be significant and Darren believes, within the confines of available funds, he can continue to tweak as much as possible from the annual average rainfall.

This year he fronts up to another season equipped with a 21.2m (70ft) Morris Contour 2 seeding bar with paired row boots on 37.5cm (15in) spacings.

It’s a bar going into its third season, representing an upgrade on a 18.2m (60ft) Morris Contour 1, also equipped with paired rows on 30cm (12in) spacings.

“The reason I went with 15 inch spacings was so I could leave the stubble higher during harvest,” Darren said. “The bonus of course is that I can also harvest faster.”

Higher stubble does have advantages with summer moisture retention and with paired row sowing –effectively 27.5cm (11in) row spacing – subsequent crop canopy after seeding effectively aids in shielding the sun from drying out the soil.

The double shoot boot is used to place fertiliser and seed in a paired row configuration. In-line seed placement is achieved by using specific in-line boots.

Seed is placed first, 3.8cm (1.4in) to each side and the fertiliser is placed 2cm (0.7in) below and down the middle row.

Digging depth is from 2cm (0.7in) to 8.3cm (3.5in) hence the low draft requirements.

Pressure is maintained on the opener cylinders through the use of a hydraulic accumulator system with adjustable down force pressures from 45.3kg to 226.8kg. The opener packing force can be increased proportionally from 31.7kg to a maximum 77.1kg.

Anecdotal evidence – comparing paired with single row establishment – has convinced Darren there is yield benefit.

“I would estimate between 200 and 300kg/ha in favour of paired rows,” he said.

“You can see the heads in split rows are bigger and visually in a tight finish they hang on better than when I was sowing single rows.”

Interestingly, Darren has dropped his seeding rates because, he says, of the precision seed placement of the Contour 2.

“The seeds are going where they are supposed to go and I’m down to 50-60kg/ha now compared with 70-80kg/ha a few years ago,” he said.

“I’m not getting any yield deficit and I reckon I could go to 40-45kg/ha if it was a good start to the year.”

Another feature of the Contour 2 which appeals to Darren is the “float mode” which releases pressure off all the hydraulic rams.

“In effect what you get going over patches of gravel ridges, for example, is that each tine can individually break out,” Darren said.

“And you can adjust the pressure of the press wheels on-the-go to suit varying soil conditions.”

Conversely there’s a “lock out” feature that is a one set-and-forget calibration, which is handy when you hand over to an inexperienced driver.

Sowing dry also holds no fears.

“Generally we start dry and keep going,” Darren said. “I think the bar works a bit better in the dry with better soil throw and we’re certainly getting good results incorporating Treflan between 1.8/ha and 2.5L/ha.

I’m happy with dry sowing because you can up the pressure and still get accurate seed depth.”

Overall, Darren also is happy to have a wider bar.

“The Contour 2 goes a bit faster (8.5-10km/h, depending on soil conditions) and being wider I’m also getting a bit more productivity,” Darren said.

He designed his 4200ha mainly cereal cropping program with central filling points to enhance that productivity and usually expects to complete about 19ha an hour.

The slab design of the Morris Contour 2, with wheels outside the frame and contour-following achieved by the individual sowing modules, is a big appeal along with an easy to adjust set-and-forget depth control system.

The hydraulically-operated individual parallelogram linkage and press wheel units ensure an almost millipede action across contours and this ground-hugging is the reason why press wheels can accurately control seed depth placement.

According to Morris, the parallelogram linkage maintains a constant opener angle relative to the soil and constant opener depth in relation to the packer wheel throughout the range of travel.

The company says its double shoot boot requires less horsepower, while the single shank design has lower draft requirements than most double-shoot air hoe drills and disc drills.

Also the single shank system doesn’t have the bunching up problem between two tines.

Depth setting is accomplished by a simple notched cam and pin system – simply rotate the cam by hand and insert the pin to lock in the desired seeding depth. Optimal seeding depth ranges from 1.27cm (0.5in) to 5cm (2in) in 0.64cm (0.25in) increments.

The packer wheels are about 14cm (5.5in) in diameter to accommodate the paired row and the subsequent furrow promotes water harvesting while protecting germination plants from wind events.

More consistent furrows can be achieved with the on-the-go packing pressure which is handy to use in differing soil types. And tine pressure also can be adjusted on-the-go.

For more information, please contact your McIntosh & Son branch.

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