While precision farming is often about improving efficiency using complex technology, sometimes the simplest of things can make a big difference to farmers.
Take the new liquid applicator from manufacturer AgriCAD of Pretoria as an example. This system has seen one farmer to cut the time taken to drill his crops. The Te Walter Farm in the Bethal district of the Mpumalanga Province in South Africa plants 4,000ha in a 50/50 rotation of maize and soya beans.
Dewald te Water has been employing a no-till system for 7 years. He is using an Argentinean manufactured Apache 20-row planter with 51cm (20in) row widths. It would appear the design and engineering team at AgriCAD are on the right track with this new machine and liquid fertiliser application is set to become more popular now that an efficient locally manufactured machine is available.
Mr te Water says the main benefit from separate fertiliser application is the actual planting time is reduced by the quicker turnaround time when he only has to refill the seed hoppers. He applies liquid fertiliser both before and after planting at depths from 2.5 to 4in (6.4- 10cm) with a 20-row applicator with a working width of 10m (33ft).
The AgriCAD machine is available in a range of models from 6 to 24 rows with 508mm (20in) wavy edge disc coulters spaced to suit the customer’s requirements. Two 3,500-litre tanks provide a total capacity of 7,000 litres (1,850 gal), the pump is driven hydraulically and the toolbar folds hydraulically to give a transport width of 5m.
RTK (GPS) controlled variable rate and section control technology is an option and while he is not using this, he says the GPS controlled constant application rate, regardless of forward speed, is a big plus.
He also reports he is experiencing very little wear in the soil-engaging parts, but the overriding benefit is the simplification of the planting process and the boost that separate fertiliser application has given to his daily planting rate.