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When it comes to making a decision on whether to purchase an air seeder or drill for no-tilling soybeans, small grains or other crops, don’t expect to reach any quick and easy answers.
The popularity of air seeders has been growing in recent years, especially among farmers who crop several thousand acres, observes Vernon Hofman, extension agricultural engineer at North Dakota State University.
Most no-till air seeders are available in 55- to 60-foot widths and can cover 200 acres a day comfortably at a seeding speed of 5 to 6 mph, adds Elmer Kaskiw, agricultural representative with the Manitoba Department of Agriculture and Food at Shoal Lake, Manitoba.
Since no-till drills are smaller, they must compensate with an increase in ground speed to come close to covering a similar number of acres in a day’s time, he adds.
Another advantage to air seeders is that they can be easily folded up for easy transportation while longer length no-till drills are not as easy to maneuver, says Hofman.
But one concern with no-till air seeders has been the ability to get consistent depth control. Some older model double-disc press drills don’t offer consistent depth control and often bounce out of the ground when seeding too fast. In softer soils, they may sink too deep into the ground.
Hofman says newer no-till disc drills feature special openers with depth-control attachments (such as press wheels) that can effectively move up and down with changing soil conditions.
While seeding depth control…