Last week—during a lull between a
late spring blizzard and heavy rain showers—I had a chance to
attend a field demonstration of Baker No-Tillage’s Cross Slot seeding
system. The demo, held on a farm near Willow City, North Dakota, was
one that would challenge the capabilities of any seed drill. The
Cross Slot drill started off seeding into tall corn stalk stubble,
moved onto virgin pasture sod and then crossed the road and went to
work in barley stubble. No small feat.
Farmers had a chance to see the
Cross Slot drill seed directly into virgin sod.
This seeding system, which was born and
bred in New Zealand, is now being aggressively marketed to farmers in
the U.S. and Canada. With the formation of Baker No-Tillage, U.S.A.,
the company has established a permanent presence on this continent.
It has also taken a close look at the needs of farmers here and
fine-tuned its system to meet those demands. That has resulted in
some changes to its manufacturing policy.
Baker has made an arrangement with
Gates, a North Dakota implement manufacturer, which will see them
build a 45-foot toolbar based on Baker’s design specifications.
According to Gavin Porter, Baker No-Tillage U.S.A.’s CEO, that and
lower opener costs have significantly reduced the retail cost of a
complete seed drill. Instead of shipping components across the
Pacific ocean, much of the system is now built here. “That
(shipping) is very expensive,” says Porter.
And Porter hopes the 45-foot toolbar
will appeal to prairie farmers’ need for wider operating widths. It
may not be as wide as many other competitors’ drills, but it has the
potential to work at field speeds up to 16 k.p.h. (10 m.p.h). “With
a narrower width but a faster speed, you’re going to cover the same
amount of acres in a day,” Porter adds.
The openers cut an inverted T-shaped
slot in the ground, placing seed and fertilizer horizontally or
diagonally separated from each other. The seed opener slots now have
a tungston-carbide coating that gives them three to five times more
working life than earlier designs. What that life will be depends on
the type of soil they have to work in. More abrasive, sandy soils
will cause more rapid wear than loam soils, just as with any opener.
Bill Ritchie of Baker No-Tillage
discusses seed placement in the sod-seeding segment of the demo with
interested farmers. The drill pass left a remarkably smooth seeded
surface in the sod.
For more on the Cross Slot field day,
watch for a full report in an upcoming print issue of Grainews,
and online video footage at Grainews.ca. The company also has a
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