08 Jul, 2015
SeedMaster Research Farm Update 2015

SeedMaster’s 2,100-acre Research Farm is our testing ground where most new innovations are born and take shape—like the 100-foot drill on 15-inch row spacing, UltraProTM meter, Overlap Control, and the MatrixTM hydraulic block. From concept to drawing board to prototype, the SeedMaster Research Farm takes proof-of concept to a whole new level.

In 2015, the Research Farm is collaborating with the Northeast Agriculture Research Foundation (NARF) at Melfort to improve the  fficiency of seeding small research plots. Traditionally, the plots are laid out in the field, and then the researcher must do each treatment individually, and jump from one replicate to another, recalibrating and repeating for each treatment.

By combining SeedMaster plot drills with prescription map technology, a researcher will be able to lay his replicated treatments into a prescription map, and then drive up and down the plots, letting the prescription map do the adjustments to the treatments. Stewart Brandt, NARF Research Manager, has been working with Garth Donald, Agronomy Manager with Decisive Farming, to create the prescription for each field, including yield goals and nutrient requirements. “Our seeding window is about 14 days in northeast Saskatchewan and this technology could dramatically decrease time needed to put field trials in place,” says Brandt.

“I’m really excited about this project. It could end up being a real time saver for researchers doing small-plot work,” says Owen Kinch, Research Farm Manager.

Potentially, the research could result in less land required for plot work, and spatial variability may be reduced. “Uniform land is crucial in research to ensure the differences that we observe can be attributed to treatments and not site variability,” explains Brandt. “Seeding from a prescription file would allow us to increase both the quality and quantity of our research trials.” The ability to use prescription maps to drive research plots reduces the cost of research and provides a platform for more plot work.

“I’m confident it will work but we need to develop the protocols to ensure research would be done with confidence and accuracy,” says Kinch.

The South East Research Farm (SERF) at Redvers will also be utilizing the SeedMaster research farm to conduct small-plot research trials. Kinch says they will be doing small-plot research for SERF, under their supervision. “We’re working with them to study the effects of plant growth regulators on five different varieties of hard red spring wheat. We’re also studying soybean
yield response to varied rates of inoculant and starter fertilizer.”

SeedMaster is also updating their small-plot drill, putting on more tanks, shortening the frame, adding a hydraulic power pack and investigating 5th-wheel options.

“We want more flexibility with our small-plot drill, and are looking to continue to evolve the type of research we do on the Research Farm,” says Kinch.

Lana Shaw, SERF Research Manager, comments, “We are happy to be working with SeedMaster and this small amount of trials will most likely be expanded for next year. It is a great asset to have an additional location for regional testing of agronomic products and technologies.”

Follow happenings on our research farm with Owen Kinch on Twitter @kinch_owen

With SeedMaster’s innovative opener system, the dual openers place seed separately from the fertilizer band. Fertilizer is always 1.5” to the side and 0.75” deeper than the seed. On 12-inch row spacing, about 3–3.5 inches of soil are lightly disturbed, producing a black strip that warms up more quickly than the soil covered with crop residue.

“From the research I’ve seen and what growers tell me, the black strip results in faster, more uniform and better germination,” says Kinch. “It is a definite advantage over disc drills, especially during cold springs.” Research from Alberta Reduced Tillage
Linkages supports this theory. They have found that the soil temperature in the black soil strip left behind after knife openers is warmer than the soil left behind after disc openers.

Seeding between the row into tall standing stubble is also enhanced with the blackened strip. The black stubble provides an ideal microclimate for fast germination, and the tall stubble shelters the fragile seedlings from wind and the soil doesn’t dry out as quickly. Combining the blackened strip with shallow, uniform seeding facilitates ideal growing conditions.
Citation: Mirza N. Baig and Peter Gamache. 2005. Soil Temperature and Direct Seeding.  Alberta Reduced Tillage Linkages


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