Drill Configuration in Western Canada

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The drill brands predominant in Western Canada are available in many widths and shank spacings. Each configuration has benefits and drawbacks which need to be considered when purchasing a new machine for the farm. There are many variations  because manufacturers have tried to have an option available to every farm. The abundance of choices can be a significant task to tackle, but it also means the producer is able to find the right machine for their operation.

 

Väderstad (Seed Hawk)

 

Arguably the #1 most popular brand for new sales for Western Canada, Väderstad (Seed Hawk) is manufactured out of Langbank, SK.

Väderstad purchased full ownership of the company in 2013, from which it had been a part-owner from 2006. Their prairies-focused model, the 40 series, is an independent drill that has 5 widths available in either 10” or 12” spacing, as well as an 84’ width, only available in 12” spacing. The smallest width available is 40’. All models have a recommended working speed range from 4.5 – 5 mph (7 – 8 km/h). These drills have three ranks of row units from front to back. In total, there are 11 different options when comparing width and shank spacing. This gives the producer a good mix of options to choose from to find the right fit for their farm.

 

Bourgault

 

A staple of seeding tools in Western Canada, Bourgault Industries is based out of St. Brieux, SK.

Bourgault has recently been purchased by Linamar Corporation to be added to their manufacturing line of companies. Offering both a line of independent and conventional drills, they have the highest amount of options for producers. Their line of independent drills, the Bourgault Paralink, are offered in as small as a 30’ width all the way up to their 100’ 3420 model. These are available in either 10” or 12” spacing across their PLS, PLX and PLDS row units. Bourgault’s conventional drill, the 5810 AHD, is offered in widths ranging from 32’ to 72’ and in shank spacings of 9.8” or 12.6”. With mid-row fertilizer applicators, these drills have four ranks of row units from front to back. In total, between both independent and conventional models, there are 26 different options when comparing widths and shank spacings. A unique feature of the Bourgault drills is the available option for mid row application of fertilizer. Separate row units are placed on the front rank of the drill in between every other seed row unit. These mid row applicators are available in either banders or shanks.

 

SeedMaster

Another prairie manufacturer, based out of Emerald Park, SK, is SeedMaster.

SeedMaster offers two models of independent drills. Their standard toolbar is regularly available in widths from 40’ up to 100’ with a special small-acre model in a 24’ width. Spacings available for these widths are 10”, 12” and a wider option in 15”. The 10” spacing isn’t offered on a drill wider than 70’ while the 15” spacing isn’t offered in any less width than 60’. The 24’ model is only available in 12” spacing and the 100’ is only offered in 15”. The standard toolbar has three ranks of row units from front to back. SeedMaster’s newest innovation, the Ultra SR single rank toolbar, is a unique design among independent drills. All row units are mounted in a single rank across the machine rather than the more common design of three ranks front to back. This model is only available in a 60’ width with 15” spacing. The main concern with this type of design is trash flow through the machine. SeedMaster tackles this problem with unique residue wheels to help push straw past the row unit. As the SR is fairly new, there is only one width being manufactured compared to SeedMaster’s standard toolbar that is offered in a variety of widths to producers. In total, SeedMaster offers 19 different variations when comparing width and shank spacing.

 

Morris

 

Under the slogan “We Grow Better Crops”, the corporate head office for Morris Industries is based in Saskatoon, SK, with most of their manufacturing in Regina, SK and Minnedosa, MB.

Morris was recently purchased by RiteWay Manufacturing in 2021. Currently, they only offer the independent model drill, the Quantum, but historically produced different models of independent drill as well as conventional style. The Quantum is available in widths of 40’ to 80’ with spacings in 10”, 12”, or 15” (excluding the 80’ model). These drills are typically three ranks from to back but a fourth rank is optional in the 40’ to 70’ models and standard on the 80’. Morris gives the producer 14 different combinations of width and shank spacing to choose from.

New Holland

New Holland offers both an independent and conventional model of drill. Their independent drill, the updated P2075, has improvements over their initial P2070 design. This model is available in 50’ to 80’ widths and 10” or 12” spacing. Similar to most other brands, the P2075 is a three rank machine. New Holland’s conventional drill models, the P2050 and P2060, have a wide variety of widths and spacings available. The P2050 is available in widths from 33’ to 58’ and varying spacings of 7.2”, 10” and 12”. Unlike many other brands, this model is only available in four ranks, front to back. Although not as common, this model also has some widths available with interrow coulters, a fertilizer applicator shank similar in theory to the Bourgault. The P2060 has much fewer variations available with widths from 60’ to 80’ and shank spacings of 7.5” (only available in 60’), 10” and 12”. Interrow coulters are not available with this model. Between all models, widths and spacings New Holland offers 30 different variations for producers to choose from.

 

John Deere

 

The giant of agricultural equipment globally is John Deere. They currently offer two models of independent drill as well as a conventional option. They have owned their independent line longer, the P500 series or formerly known as the Conservapak 1870, is only currently offered in two widths (40’ and 56’), both on 12” spacing. These are the more common three rank machines. Their newly acquired line, the P600, is being manufactured for them by SeedMaster. This means many of the options in width and spacing are the same between the two brands. Widths are available from 60’ to 90’ with all models in 12” spacing and the 60’ and 70’ available in 10” spacing. Their conventional line of drills, the H500 and H500F, are offered in three widths, 40’, 50’ and 60’. The H500 series is offered in three shank spacings, 7.5”, 10” and 12.5” while the H500F series is only available in 10” or 20” spacing. Across all of these models, John Deere can offer producers 23 different options of width and spacing.

 

One of the important considerations when looking at different drill configurations is drill width. This is largely dependent on the producer’s land makeup and their tractor’s horsepower and hydraulic capacity. Smaller drills require less horsepower because they have less frame weight and have less draft from fewer shanks (comparing equivalent shank spacing) in the ground. More hydraulic capacity is also required with wider independent drills which may be limited with tractor size. Smaller drills are a better fit for land that has more obstructions throughout. More turning around sloughs, patches of bush, or rock piles will lead to more overlap with a wider drill.

 

Shank spacing is also very important when looking at a new drill. The more narrow spacing, 10” and 9.8”, are typically more suited to producers who want to focus on their cereal and pulse crops. The conventional knowledge is that these types of crops perform better with narrower spacing. It also helps with harvest when swathing to keep the crop swath off the ground. The downside to narrower spacing is that there will be more draft, maintenance costs will be higher, and seeding speed will be lower compared to wider spacing. Trash flow may also be an issue with more shanks to act as catch points. The wider spacing drills, 12”, 14” and 15”, are typically more focused on canola crops. Wider spacing gives the plant more opportunity to branch out and fill the space. These drills will require less horsepower to pull as there are less openers in the ground. Trash flow and seeding speed will also be improved in these models compared to more narrow spacing. The drawback is the agronomic factors of a later canopy cover in cereal and pulse crops and more risk in swathing.

 

The ultimate question when looking at the available widths and shank spacings of new drills offered today, is which is right for you. Regardless of brand, conventional or independent, or budget, the search for a new drill starts with width and spacing. Tractor horsepower is a very important factor when considering both width and spacing. The wider the drill, the heavier the implement. More shanks in the ground equals more draft. Both factors will affect pulling power needed in a tractor. Are you matching a new drill to your current tractor or are you purchasing a new tractor alongside a new drill? Tractor horsepower needs to be solidified before the next step in the decision process is made. The preferred drill width will be different for many farms across Western Canada, hence manufacturers offering so many options available to producers. Land with more obstructions, bush, sloughs or rock piles may be better suited for a smaller drill to prevent large amounts of overlap. Although sectional control has lessened this impact, it still should be considered. Areas with less obstructions that farm more corner-to-corner will be more suited to a wider drill. Shank spacing will ultimately come down to producer preference. Many who cater towards their cereal and pulse crops will choose a drill with tighter spacing compared to an operation focused on canola who leans towards wider spacing. Although there are spacings available from 7.2” all the way up to 20”, most decisions are typically between the 10” and 12” models. With the abundance of manufacturer options, these factors need to be considered before moving along in the decision making process.

As always, the team at Dutch is always here to help and answer any questions you may have.

 

Air Seeders, Väderstad. 2023

3330 & 3335 ParaLink Hoe Drills, Bourgault Industries Ltd. 2023

www.Bourgault.com

Product Guide, SeedMaster. 2024

Quantum Air Drill, Morris. 2024

Precision Hoe Drill P2075, New Holland Agriculture. 2021

New Holland Air Hoe Drills P2050 P2060, New Holland Agriculture. 2021

Air-Seeding Equipment, John Deere. 2022

www.deere.ca

 

About the Author

 

Connor Bohachewski

Territory Manager, Northern Saskatchewan & Northern Manitoba

 

With over six years at Dutch Industries, Connor’s background in agronomy has come in handy during day-to-day encounters with dealers and producers.

“My territory has some of the toughest conditions such that if our products can work for my customers, they can work for anybody.”