Intelligent crop production
Perfect sowing is the basis for maximum yields
Professional crop production is faced with ever greater challenges: The new Fertiliser Directive and the withdrawal of individual plant protection agents on the one hand combined with increasing resistance on the other. But the increasing number of extreme climatic events with persistent drought or increasingly frequent torrential rainfall also have a major impact on crop production.
This means that crop production methods, crop rotation, plant protection and fertilisation practices as well as the strategy for crop establishment needs to be reviewed and changed if necessary. The seed drill plays a key role here. This is because perfect sowing creates the ideal basis for maximum yields.
As a result, the demands on modern sowing technology are continuously increasing. Precise seed metering and exact depth placement therefore have top priority. Part-area, site-specific sowing and automatic switching on and off at the headland are playing an increasingly important role in obtaining maximum yields with optimum use of the inputs. However, today, a large number of seed drills also offer the possibility of combining different seed types or seed and fertiliser together in one pass. This is because the importance of applying correctly placed fertiliser as well as under-sown crops, companion plants and catch crop mixtures continues to grow in modern farming.
Simple calibration forms the basis for precise metering
Seed metering is of critical importance for crop establishment. Here it is essential that adjustments between different crops can be made easily and quickly. Changing the sowing rate must also be able to be carried out intuitively. In this regard, both conventional and pneumatic seed drills from Amazone offer ElectricDrive seed metering. Depending on the machine type, this can be controlled via a machine-specific operator terminal or an ISOBUS terminal. The advantage of electric metering shaft drive lies in the easy adjustment of the seed rate at the touch of a button via the terminal. In addition to this, the corners of fields can be neatly sown, since pre-dosing is made possible via the terminal and the seed is available at the coulters immediately at the start of sowing.
Electric drive enables extremely easy calibration at the push of a button. After calibration, the calibrated quantity only has to be weighed by the driver and entered in the terminal. The machine then adjusts itself automatically and the required seed rate very precisely matches the actual rate drilled.
The optional TwinTerminal offers even more comfort by enabling the calibration process and the data input to be carried out directly down at the seed drill via the TwinTerminal in the SmartCenter. This saves the driver from repeatedly having to climb into and out of the cab to reach the ISOBUS terminal. As an alternative, calibration can be carried out at the machine via a smartphone. For this purpose, Amazone offers the mySeeder App for iOS and Android devices. The seed drill is connected to the smartphone via a Bluetooth adapter and calibrated via the App.
The perfect sowing rate depending on the soil conditions
Since the soil conditions, water availability and therefore also the yield potential can vary considerably within a field in some cases, it is good policy to tailor the sowing rate to the conditions. The use of application maps is ideal for making this change within a field. Adjustment of the sowing rate by means of an application map has been gaining in importance in the last two or three years, especially when sowing maize. Apart from the seed sowing rate, even the quantity of under-root fertilisation is tailored via a second application map here.
However, part-area, site-specific sowing is also becoming increasingly more important in cereal sowing, since it forms the foundation for a more even crop management.
The data in the terminal can also be documented on a part-area, site-specific basis and transferred to a farm management software via the so-called task controller, so that not only can the sowing rate be planned beforehand but also accurately documented during the work.
Simple data exchange via the agrirouter
agrirouter is ideal for data transfer between the machine and the management software. Machinery and agricultural software can be connected across manufacturers by means of this universal data exchange platform for farmers and contractors.
Each user can create a personal agrirouter account and individually configure their own data stream consisting of the machinery and management systems.
AMAZONE presented the myAmaRouter App for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets at Agritechnica 2019. This App acts as a link between the AmaTron 4 ISOBUS terminal and agrirouter. The myAgrirouter App can be used to send data such as the job data and application maps from any Farm Management Information System (FMIS) to the AmaTron 4 via the agrirouter by creating a hotspot via a smartphone. Conversely, jobs being carried out can be recorded on the AmaTron 4 and sent to a Farm Management Information System for documentation via the myAmaRouter App.
Precise switching in wedge shaped fields and on the headland
Sowing gaps or overlaps in wedge shaped fields and on headlands make good crop management very difficult in these areas. In the first place, yield potential is lost in the areas left unsown and, secondly, the weeds and grass plants have no competition from the crop here. There is an increased risk of lodged grain and a higher susceptibility to fungal diseases in the overlap areas, which can significantly reduce the quality of the harvest.
Precise switching on and off in these areas is therefore particularly important. This can be easily provided via GPS-Switch with SectionControl on machines with electric metering shaft drive and ISOBUS. If the drill is equipped with electric half-side shut-off, precision can be further increased, particularly in wedge shaped fields.
The distance between the metering unit and the sowing coulter can be very long, especially with pneumatic seed drills. This makes precise automatic switching more difficult, above all, because different seed types and fan speeds result in different conveying times between the metering unit and coulter. Amazone offers the AutoPoint system for pneumatic seed drills to further improve automatic switching via GPS-Switch. In this case, a sensor is attached to the sowing coulter, whereby the seed flow at the coulter is permanently monitored at each switch point. Switch-off of the metering unit in wedge shaped fields or on the headland can therefore be provided very accurately by considering the conveying time.
Perfect seed placement ensures quick seedling development
Quick seedling development and the associated filled in canopy is immensely important for weed suppression and will become more and more significant in the future when the use of plant protection agents is reduced. The seed must be sown at a very precise depth, have good soil contact to draw capillary water up and be covered with sufficient soil, so that the plant can develop quickly and reliably.
The perfect combination of roller, sowing coulter and following harrow is required to guarantee this.
A large selection of rollers, such as the tooth packer roller, trapezium ring roller or wedge ring roller, mean that all Amazone seed drill combinations can be perfectly tailored to the respective field conditions. The sowing coulters come in a choice between the RoTeC single disc coulter and the TwinTeC double disc coulter with different widths of depth guidance rollers that suit the various requirements.
Apart from exact depth control of the coulter, easy setting, and the possibility of quick adjustment depending on the soil, are prerequisites for achieving the perfect placement depth. For example, the depth of the TwinTeC coulter in a seed drill combination can be changed centrally. The individual coulters do not have to be adjusted here. Furthermore, all AMAZONE seed drills are equipped with central coulter pressure adjustment, which can even be changed hydraulically from the tractor cab. As a result, the coulter pressure can be tailored to the varying conditions in the field, and the desired placement depth thus always obtained. There is even an automatic coulter pressure adjustment via the application map for the Cirrus trailed drill combination.
Dealing with weather extremes: Perfect management of soil moisture
The increasing number of extreme weather events are also a challenge for the seed drill. The soil moisture levels must be controlled very carefully and unnecessary drying out prevented in the event of a persistent drought. This starts with the soil tillage after the combine harvester, continues with deep soil cultivation and finishes with the sowing operation. The soil moisture must be maintained in the soil when preparing the seedbed in extremely dry years, and the soil must be cultivated as shallow as possible and as deep as necessary, so that the soil moisture is available at seed depth. As the soil moisture can vary within a field, the hydraulic adjustment of rotary harrow, rotary cultivators or disc harrow segments offers the advantage that they can be quickly adjusted to the changing conditions from the tractor cab.
In addition to the normal cultivating disc element in the Cirrus trailed drill combination, Amazone offers the water-conserving Minimum TillDisc. This only cultivates the strip where the sowing coulter is running, thereby creating a fine crumbled seedbed in this area and significantly reducing unnecessary moisture loss over the entire field. Thanks to the strip-wise seedbed preparation, the machine is also considerably easier to pull and more fuel-efficient. Good reconsolidation of the soil and embedment of the seed via the following roller are immensely important in dry years.
However, since there is frequently heavy rainfall in addition to drought, the soil shouldn’t be reconsolidated over the entire area but just in the areas where the seed is located. The areas in between remain loose. The water can therefore permeate into the soil even during heavy downpours without the soil surface becoming completely waterlogged.
Reducing plant protection agent consumption and increasing biodiversity
A reduction in the use of plant protection agents will be a challenge to modern agriculture in the future. Crop rotations will again become wider and the use of companion plants and under-sown crops will increase, in order to meet this challenge. This is because companion plants and under-sown crops offer the following advantages:
- Greater biodiversity
- Less soil erosion
- Better protection against moisture loss
- Improved soil structure
- Improved nutrient availability
- Fewer crop protection measures
- CO₂ fixing, building up organic matter
- Increase in photosynthetic activity
Modern sowing technology must therefore provide the option of sowing several seed types at different entry points in one pass. For example, Amazone offers the option of sowing an additional seed type as a companion plant or under-sown crop via the GreenDrill for the Cataya and Centaya seed drill combinations. Three different seed types can be sown with the Cirrus-CC trailed drill combination in conjunction with the GreenDrill 501 or a combination of fertiliser with two different seed types can be applied at three different entry points. Thanks to the MultiBin function, all three hoppers can be controlled via three different application maps and the seed rates of the respective seed types varied independently of each other on a part-area, site specific basis. The automatic switch-point on the headland controls the shutting on and off of each material separately via the MultiBoom function.
Modern sowing technology must be both highly precise and very flexible. Precise metering and seed placement and exact switching on the headland and in wedge shaped fields ensure good crops and yields. Automatic adjustment of the seed rate to the various soil types and field conditions is just as important today as simple automatic documentation. But the possibility of the simultaneous sowing of companion plants and under-sown crops will also increasingly play a role. The issue of water conservation during dry conditions and optimum water drainage in the soil in the event of heavy rainfall are challenges which are facing modern seeding systems.