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Steep hills and sloping terrain are where no-till should have its biggest benefits. However, Pacific Northwest growers often avoid conservation tillage because it’s hard to keep seed and fertilizer separate with no-till drills, says J.W. Thomas.
Rather than lose precious topsoil with conventional tillage, the Prescott, Wash., farmer went to the drawing board and developed the 12-inch, 29-row Thomas 1988-1 no-till drill.
“This drill uses a specially designed point that bands fertilizer under the seed,” explains Thomas. “It gives a 2 1/2-inch separation between fertilizer and seed. It also moves crop residue away from the row rather than tucking residue into the seed row.
“Disturbing the soil under the seed at planting time is another benefit because it helps destroy disease pathogens that attack wheat seedlings.”
The 29-foot-wide drill has an 11-foot center section and two 9-foot wings that lift for transport.
The drill’s two fertilizer systems have differently sized fill fittings to avoid accidental mixing. The center tank has a 750-gallon capacity and each wing tank has a 100-gallon capacity.
A hydraulically controlled selector valve controls draw from the tanks. Pressure gauges mounted on the front of the center tank also monitor fertilizer flow.
“The patented no-till chisel point uses two stainless steel fertilizer delivery tubes to deliver unmixed fertilizer to the soil,” says Thomas.
Thomas designed the seed boxes with steep terrains in mind.
“Seed boxes carry enough seed for two fertilizer fillings and are mounted high enough to feed all ranks going…