Move over Christmas, planting season is the “most wonderful time of the year” for many farmers. With another planting season upon us, it’s time for another tradition of sorts — the debate over which method for seeding canola is best. Some farmers have been moving toward planters, due to inefficiencies of conventional air drills, while others wouldn’t trade the success they’ve seen with their air drills in a million years. Furthermore, some producers in far northern climates are insistent on using hoe drills instead of disc drills for their ability to warm the seedbed.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these equipment options for seeding canola, but Concord engineers developed our Single Disc Drill with the goal of creating the silver bullet — combining the benefits of each solution and eliminating the shortcomings of competitive disc drills. While we can’t control all factors when seeding canola, such as the weather, the design of the Single Disc Drill is ideal for all the controllable factors critical to seeding canola. Here are four keys to growing high-yielding canola, and how Concord's Single Disc Drill excels in each area:
So what factors are controllable? Producers of canola know that the seeding depth plays a vital role in the rate of emergence. There’s little room for error when it comes to getting this part right. Canola must be sown at a depth of ½” to 1” to allow for a high percentage of emergence. Too shallow or too deep leads to seedling mortality. And the seeds that do emerge tend to have a highly variable emergence date, which creates an uneven field. While air seeders typically aren’t known for their precise seeding depth, Concord's Single Disc Drill isn’t your standard air seeder. Our Single Disc Drill has hydraulic cylinders on each tool bar allowing operators to monitor and control the seeding depth on-the-go. This provides the precise down pressure needed to control the seed depth better than competitive drills.
Our single disc drill also features a larger packer tire than competitive drills. We use this design because our packer tires perform multiple tasks by re-leveling the soil and closing the (2) seed and fertilizer furrows, as well as maintaining depth. Furthermore, the larger size gives the openers stability and provides consistent depth through a variety of soil conditions. On the other hand, competitive disc drill gauge wheels tend to move around a lot in working conditions, which isn’t ideal for seeding canola. No other air drill can offer the same level of accuracy as our single disc drill.
Another key controllable factor in high canola yields is fertilizer banding. This is undeniably the main advantage to using an air drill over a planter. Planters simply lack the banding capabilities that a single disc drill can offer because they don’t have the needed tool bar strength. This means producers are forced to make a pre-plant or topdress application of nitrogen, which is a much less efficient method of supplying nitrogen, and could cost yield by not delivering nutrients to the roots at the ideal plant growth stages.
Thanks to the precise accuracy of the single disc drill, one can be certain that the fertilizer is going to be exactly where it needs to be to feed the plants during the most critical growth stages without damaging seedlings.
Many agronomists agree that the ideal spacing of fertilizer is three inches from each row and 1.5 inches below the seed. However, most other single disc drills only have 10-inch row spacing, leaving the fertilizer 5 inches from the seed when equipped with mid-row banders. This severely diminishes the availability of the fertilizer when the plant needs it. With the mid-row banders that are found on the Concord Single Disc Drill, the fertilizer is available to the plant roots, during the critical growth window, when needed most.
Not only is the seed depth vital to the success of a canola crop, the soil conditions play a huge role too. Lack of a black seedbed generated by competitive disc drills is a concern for Canadian farmers who typically use hoe drills instead of disc drills for seeding their canola. A firm, warm, moist seedbed is a necessity for proper emergence. Fortunately, that is something you can achieve with an Concord Single Disc Drill. The openers on our single disc drill don’t just cut a slot in the ground like competitive drills. Instead it is designed to move more soil and effectively cover up the seed with black, clean soil — not just straw — to create a warm seedbed for fast, even emergence. Rear packer tires then firm and level the soil over the seed to create the ideal environment for canola.
Another advantage of rear packer tires is they don’t create sidewall compaction, unlike competitive units that have gauge wheels. In these systems the opening disc moves soil horizontally, while the gauge wheels compress it vertically, creating sidewall compaction that can hinder furrow closing, increase the likelihood of the furrow opening back up, and restrict root development. The design of Concord's Single Disc Drill doesn’t create this sidewall compaction, but instead produces an ideal environment for seedling emergence and deep root growth.
The last factor that is able to be controlled when planting canola is the seeding speed. Farmers using hoe drills are forced to seed at a much slower speed. Many times, seeding windows are cut short due to undesirable seeding conditions. When the window is open, producers must be as efficient with their time as possible. But when trying to run at higher speeds with hoe drills, the rear openers can throw more soil over the front rows, burying those front rows. This can slow germination in the front rows, as well as cause uneven emergence from row to row. This is where the Concord Single Disc Drill can make a huge impact on the planting season, as there is no need to slow down. Concord customers average anywhere from 7-12 mph (11.3-19.3 kph), meaning a 60-foot single disc drill traveling at 9 mph can seed over 30 acres in just 30 minutes!
When adding up all of these factors, the advantages of seeding canola with an Concord Single Disc Drill are clear. Excellent emergence and plant performance speak for themselves. Add in the fact that our customers’ canola stands are so good, they are often able to dramatically lower their seeding rates and still achieve the same yield. And when we’re talking about a seed as expensive as canola, the savings adds up real fast. Savings that could be better spent on that other “most wonderful time of the year.”