The new seed drill

Introduction

What do you say if I now claim that is it will be possible to get twice as much crop with our new Flat Seed Drill in proportion to the crop you have with the present row seed drill? No, I do not believe that. No, that is too good to be true, etc. In that case why do you say that? The present seed drill concept is more than 300 years old. Everything else that is more than 300years old has long ago been replaced by machines that are many times as efficient and that also give much better result. Therefore I think you at least should read my arguments before you reject the possibilities I here imagine. Then you can evaluate which arguments I claim, that you agree in. I believe also that the possibility of getting twice as much crop by changing to the new Flat Seed Machine will have so large consequence for the agriculture that a debate about this possibility have to appear.

History

The present seed drill concept, the row seed drill, was invented by Jethro Tull in 1701 and is consequently more than 300 years old. First, some history to create acceptance for why I think that I know about seeding. From I was a child, and participated in seeding grain and seed, through many years behind the steering wheel and handles on different tractors with row seeding drills, I have studied each row seeding function and evaluated how the seed drill function can be done better and how it can help in giving better crop. I have seeded all common Nordic types of grain and seed like barley, wheat, oat, rye, grass seed and herbs and know the challenge with each of them. I have driven tractor with seed drill in so steep hills that it has been on the limit to start sliding, and where I had to choose the driving direction with care to avoid the tractor from spinning. I have driven seed drill in really many hours without breaks until it has become impossible because of the night darkness. This has made me conscious about that a seed drill must be quite user friendly. I shall not dwell longer with this. Maybe I already have worried unnecessary about this here, but since I propose so large changes, then it is important that you understand that this is not only loose thoughts and ideas. The reason is that I do not think the row seed drill is up to standard. I am educated Mechanical engineer, Master of Science, and have worked with developments and inventions through many years. I have invented and developed products that have ousted old products in conservative and demanding businesses like the oil business, construction business and shipping and owns and run Production Company based on my own inventions.

What have we done differently on the new seed drill?

After more than 300 years with the same concept I see that it is really high time to take a closer look at the seed drill concept with quite a new focus. It is surprisingly that the seed drill concept has not been gone through more closely with thought of the possibility to increase the crops by seeding differently than in rows. Especially taken into consideration that when they changed from seeding by hand to row seed drill, as they did before, increased the crops 8 times. With such a big jump in the crops they then got, at once, so long time ago, it is hardly probable that they hit the ideal solution at once, and that they did not do either. When the expense with necessary change in seeding method and seeding quantity are so modest, the profit becomes gigantic and the change to the new Flat seed drill unavoidable. I shall here explain a few of all the changes we have done. Generally told, it is little left of the old seed drill, but I am convinced that you will like what you will see. At least those who have seen the solution so far do.

a. Seed up to twice the quantity of grain. Get more than twice the crop.

This allegation maybe becomes hard to accept in the beginning, and therefore I will explain why this is possible. All seeding quantities of grain and seed today are based on experience with use of row seeding drill. This is described in the article http://flagro.com/en/seedingmachine that I have written earlier. Then all grains lie in rows and the plants have to compete for the space in groups along the rows while there is lots of free space in between. Even if you seed sparsely today, every grain plant has limited space. No one would even think about planting for instance pine or spruce trees in this way, because then the timber would have been unusable. You can also see as described in the article http://flagro.com/en/seedingmachine how ample the space is between the seed grains and thus between the grain plants when you seed with perfect distribution. The distance between the plants then is almost 2 inches (48 millimeter). And then we have the interesting consideration about seeding quantity. If we increase the seeding quantity of barley from 200 to 400 lbs/acre (200 to 400 kg/hectare), by use of our ideal flat seed machine, then the distance between the seed grain and thus the grain plants still is 1.3/8 inches (34 millimeter). This means that the roots and the blades on every single plant get an area entirely for itself as big as 1.9 square inches (9 square centimeters). That is far more than they have in the plant groups after the present row seed drill. This clearly shows that it should be quite simply obtainable to double the crops on the same area by using our new Flat Seed Machine. As you can see from the earlier article http://flagro.com/en/seedingmachine you already use more than sufficient quantity of fertilizer. You must only distribute the fertilizer correctly and our new Flat Seed Machine does that. You cannot continue to seed the fertilizer in massive rows outside the grain roots reach most of the growing season as the present combination row seed drills do.

Picture 1. Even with twice the seed quantity 400lbs barley/acre, there is good space between the grain plants when they become quite evenly distributed over the area. 1.9 square inches (9 square centimeters) for every grain plat is much more than they have in the plant groups after the present row seed drills. The white circles show the distribution of fertilizer. As illustrated on the image the roots will not have to grow more than maximally 18 millimeter (3/4") to reach the fertilizer and thus provide for optimal growth. This will happen shortly after seeding.

The contrast from present row seed drills to our new flat seed drill is enormous. With present row seed drills, the grain plant roots must grow to a length of minimum 60 millimeter (2.5") to one side and 180 millimeter (11") to the other side before they can reach the fertilizer, and that distance is longer than most roots can reach before season end, and then most of the remaining fertilizer has been washed away by rain. All roots that grow in other directions will never reach the fertilizer. This explains the poor efficiency you get from fertilizer. The vast amount of fertilizer you must seed with present row seed drills compared to what the grain can make use of. The fertilizer that is superfluous injures rivers, lakes and seas and the amount of money in your pocket.

The Flat seeding method contributes with these advantages:

  1. At least twice the crop. Even 3 times as big crops are within reach, when the method and the machines is finish optimized.
  2. All the grain plants get much more equal and better growing conditions already from start and through the entire season.
  3. All the grain gets better access to nourishment from start. Larger and more powerful plants. More crop.
  4. The grain plants cover the soil much better and prevent evaporation of water. Reduce early summer drought.
  5. The grain plants utilize the sun shine better and grow faster. Larger crop.
  6. The grain plants cover the soil and quell weed. Less need of pesticide spraying. Less pesticide expenses and better crop.
  7. All grain plants get better rooted. That reduces the risk for fall-over damages.
  8. Most of the grain straw will be stronger, stiffer and more symmetric. Less risk for fall-over.
  9. The roots will be more symmetric than after the present row seed drill. I have dig up and studied the root system on stubs after the present row seed drills. The roots are unsymmetrical and uneven distributed under the grain plant and often deformed because the plant roots have been forced to grow close together like plant in brushwood.
Picture 2. The image has been taken across a row seeded with the old seed drill. To really show the lack of space available for the roots, the earth has been carefully washed off, without rearranging the roots. You can see how the roots on the plants are crippled and left to grow together because of a lousy seed drill solution. After 300 years, it is maybe due time to let the plants have optimal grow-conditions.
Picture 3. This image has been taken lengthwise width the rows, and shows the rows positions in relation to one another. Here you can see how little of the soil the roots of the plants have the possibility to make use of after today´s seed drills.

b. Self propelled seed machine.

Maybe you think this is strange and overdone, but it is more important than you maybe immediate think over because it is several very important reasons to leave the tractor pulled solution and pass on to self propelled.

  1. When we shall take out the crop potential that exist in a field, it is important that we manage to keep the edge from the previous row so that we do not get overlap. With the present seeding quantity of approximately 200lbs/acre one can tolerate some overlap because it has been seeded so thin. When this shall be optimized we must have machines that can be kept on the edge of the previous row much better. On our self propelled seed machine you will have the seed equipment in front of you so that you always can follow the previous seed edge with your eyes at the same time as you see that there is nothing wrong over the entire seed width. You will then be able to adjust immediate so that you follow the seeding edge all the time.
  2. You do not risk getting unseeded rows in the grain field. That is important to reduce the possibility for weed to develop at the same time that you do not get lost areas. The latter maybe seems not so important, but it can easily sum up to 5 % loss in crop and that is in fact quite a lot when you think of that as a direct loss in net income. Besides, it has an occupational pride side also.
  3. That the driving becomes easier contributes to faster seeding. The self propelled flat seed machine will be made to seed at twice the speed as with the present old fashion tractor pulled seed drill. This way you save 2 large tractors, 1 seed drill and 1 driver.
  4. Our self propelled Flat Seed Machine is designed so that you can turn 180 degree at the end of the field and drive back alongside the row you just have leaved without backing or taking an extra turn. That increases the efficiency of the machine formidably without destroying the soil with lots of trampling on the end of the field.
  5. Because you always can look forward when seeding, it will be much less tiring to seed and you will be able to keep on longer between every break.
  6. I reckon that everyone that have tried to keep on seeding when the twilight sets in have experienced that this is virtually impossible. The reason for this lies in the human eye. With tractor pulled seed drill you must turn backwards and forwards all the time to see where to drive and to see if everything goes well with the seed drill. When it darkens the human eyes do not manage to adopt to the change in the light fast enough because the light is no longer constant. With self propelled Flat Seed Machine you get constant light along the row edge where you must see all the time and you can keep on driving much longer. The night darkness does not obstruct the seeding work anymore. You must of course not seed during the night because it has become possible, but it may be required if long lasting rain has been forecasted and you want to get the seed grain seeded so that it can make use of the rain. Now you at least have the possibility.
  7. If you sum up the effects from point 3 - 6, you will see that such a self propelled Flat Seed Machine can replace 4 large tractors (150 - 200 horsepower), 4 pieces 20 feet (6 meter) wide towed seed drills and 2 tractor drivers. That represents a lot of money.
  8. A self propelled Flat Seed Machine will be very light in comparison with a tractor and a pulled seed drill. The tractor must be very large, pure and simple to manage to pull its own weight and the weight of the pulled seed drill with full load of seed grain and fertilizer. A self propelled Flat Seed Machine on the other hand, the way we have designed it, will be a very light machine because the tanks for grain and fertilizer are placed directly over the wheels. The reduced weight from using such a solution can easily be more than 75 thousand lbs (30 metric tons). Think what 75 lbs (30 metric tons) old fashion tractors and pulled seed drills costs. That will end up in much saved investment and cost.
  9. The total installed engine power that such a self propelled Flat Seed Machine needs is only a fraction of all the power in the tractors it replaces because it is so light. The engine will be correctly dimensioned to the machine itself and thereby both the fuel consumption and not at least the investments will be reduced to a fraction of what they are today.
  10. The entire need for cursors disappear, driving sideways in steep hills become almost as easy as driving on flat field, transport will be much simpler and the adjustments of the seed quantity, both of grain and fertilizer will be much simpler.

c. Four wheel drive on four equal sized wheels.

The self propelled Flat Seed Machine is equipped with four equal sized wheels and four wheel drive. The weight is evenly distributed on all wheels. These two conditions makes that the Flat Seed Machine is very capable of running through soft field. Extra wide wheels and the low weight give the machine very low foot pressure. Besides, with our self propelled Flat Seed Machine, you seed before you run over the seed bed. This prevents destruction of the seed bed with heavy tractors with wheels with deep pattern. You avoid bad seeding and difficult growing conditions. If you drive in steep hills, you could be standing still with the present tractors and pulled seed drills, because the driving wheels start spinning. With the new self propelled Flat Seed Machine with four wheel drive on four equal sized wheels you will probably not even feel that you could have problems.

d. Changes of the seed machine function.

The entire solution is completely changed. The seed paw is gone. The metering mechanism and the running of them are completely changed. The control system is new and need much less space and becomes much easier to adjust and above all, it will not be affected by steeping, shaking or other irregularities. It will be forced feeding of seed grain and fertilizer until it is in its place in the soil. Thus the Flat Seed Machine's inclination, speed and movements will be without consequence for the seed quantity and the efficiency.

Our entire new driver's cabin system is a closed pressurized system with good separation of earth dust so that possible dust in the air not harms the driver. Earth dust particles are of course very harmful for everyone within nearness, especially those who is much exposed to that dust.

You will see several really large goodies of improvements when our new Flat Seed Machine is shown for the first time. That also pass for how the flat seeding function is solved.

Production

When you look at the present row seed drills with a view of the design you will fast see that the design originate from an earlier age, before all the new production tools like laser cutting of plates and welding and mounting with robots. Of course they use these new tools, but if you really want to get economic benefits from these new technologies, so the entire construction must be designed together quite from the bottom. One has to take this into consideration and the new trends within efficient designs. I can see from the detailed solutions that this has not been done when designing the present seed drills. When I look at these types of machines I also see that it is quite necessary that it now appears new generations of most machine construction elements like couplings between shafts and wheels, tube connections, movable shaft couplings, etc. This is necessary to reduce the use of materials and the production costs, costs when assembling and not least the costs for inspection, service, maintenance and repairs.

Reduced emission

When we take into consideration these conditions that here are mentioned, it should be easy to reduce CO2-emission and consumption with 50 - 80 %. The seed machines can be produced with appreciable less use of materials and resources that in its turn result in less emission. We will use appreciable less energy to run a light self propelled Flat Seed Machine than to drag along with several of the present large tractors with towed seed drills.

Reflections

Like a new spring. Hardly anything can measure up to the fantastic joy it is to see new plants sprout and grow. An indescribable pleasure that feels bigger every year. Every year plows old plant remains into the soil, the soil cultivates, grain is seeded, new plants and animals is followed up and are well treated. Maybe this renewal thought should be followed a bit more in the rest of the society as well, for example, in the industry because there I see an attitude to almost convulsive to keep the old solutions even if it is poor and not optimal. They continue to produce poor cars, airplanes, construction equipment, combines, tractors etc even if they long time ago should have been replaced by new, more effective and environmental friendly solutions. Products that is so bad that they destroy the globe defends with an eagerness that only is head shaking when we think of how fantastic it would have been to rather see new fantastic optimum products be developed to carry the world forward. The computer manufacturers develop new laser writers, readers, memory etc. based on quite new technologies. The farming equipment manufacturers still deliver the old-fashioned row seed drill concept. What now will happen, anyhow, is that much of the old farming machines disappear. We now will get new solutions and products based on updated knowledge.

Contact

If you are interested or have views you can contact us on email:flagro@fladby.com.

© Tron-Halvard Fladby/ 26.2.2008