Liverpool Plains conservation farmer Trevor Pengilley is boosting profitability and yields by using an Excel Agriculture Stubble Warrior SP-200 double disc planter.
Trevor and wife Jeanne winter crop wheat and barley and summer crop sorghum and sunflowers at Blackville near Quirindi on the southern edge of the Liverpool Plains in New South Wales. They progressively moved into zero till farming from 1993 to control erosion, conserve moisture, improve soil structure, reduce costs and increase yields.
“Cropping margins are pretty fine, so we can't afford to have any blunders,” said Mr Pengilley. “Because the cost of inputs is so high we need to use a planter that we have confidence in to do the job properly. The Stubble Warrior allows us to opportunity crop and double crop if the seasonal conditions and crop prices are right.”
Their farming system is set up on 3m centres and is precision controlled using a RTK GPS auto guidance system with 2cm accuracy. In May 2005 the Pengilleys replaced their single disc planter with a 9.1m Excel Agriculture Stubble Warrior SP-200, which features a four bar modular parallelogram design with 16" double discs, fully adjustable twin 16" gauge wheels and twin V- press wheels. “We needed a versatile planter that could be built to our specifications to allow us to do a few different operations and to apply seed and fertilizer in one pass,” Mr Pengilley said.
The Stubble Warrior is trailed behind a front wheel assist Case IH MX 285 tractor and the Pengilleys also invested in a Case IH 3260 three-bin air seeder. The addition of a fourth bin has given them a 10,500 litre capacity and allowed extra flexibility to blend seed and fertilizer on the go, as each bin is hooked up to a variable rate controller.
“We worked closely with Excel to design the planter and it suits us because it fits in with our 27.3 metre boom spray, so we can work in a ratio of three passes to one. By having the repeatability of the GPS we can go back each time on the same tracks and can use the nudge function to move 150mm to 200mm either way when planting between the previous rows,” Mr Pengilley said.
The Stubble Warrior planter has 36 openers, and for winter crop planting 12 openers deliver urea and 24 deliver seed and starter fertilizer. For summer crop planting the reverse applies, with 12 openers used for seed placement and starter fertilizer and 24 used for urea application. “This enables a very quick and simple move from summer to winter cropping or vice versa by simply switching the primary air line manifold.”
Mr Pengilley said the planter's precise accuracy of fertilizer placement maximised nutrition to the emerging seed without the risk of burning.
“Other advantages of the planter are its very high clearance, excellent stubble flow and very strong and robust design. The discs can easily handle the stubble and the double-disc machine certainly allows us to get onto the ground earlier than before in wet conditions,” he said.
Results from two winter crops and one summer crop planted with the Stubble Warrior had surpassed expectations. “The seed placement was very good and we got a terrific strike. Even though we planted into dry conditions last summer, our yields were quite good considering the season.”
“We've got a good system and we're very happy with it. I think it is terrific and the support from Excel has been very good.”
Excel Agriculture planters are Australian made and owned and are performing well under a range of soil types around Australia. Excel Agriculture sales consultant Dan Ryan said the Stubble Warrior was proving popular in the Liverpool Plains and Moree districts, as well as throughout Queensland, from the Central Highlands to Goondiwindi.
“In terms of precision seed placement and a quick, even germination the Stubble Warrior is second to none,” said Mr Ryan. “The fact that it can do a one pass seed and fertilizer operation really opens the door for opportunity cropping.”
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