Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Eastern Washington State
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Quoted: 45 Post(s)
This has been my experience with the drill. I farm in a 12” annual rainfall zone, 2/3 of that comes between late fall and early spring. It’s not uncommon for us not to get any appreciable rainfall from early June to mid October. In the spring, seeding conditions are usually pretty good with moisture being just below the surface but without things being too muddy. Most of our crops are fall seeded though and that’s when things are tougher. Moisture is generally marginal and pretty deep at 2”-4” with 6” not being unheard of. We seed in late August/early September so the plants have enough time to grow before the snow flies. Since we don’t get reliable rains until mid October and by then winter is right around the corner, dusting the seed in in September and hoping for rain is usually a recipe for poor and inconsistent results.
In the spring the Pillar works fantastic for me. It just high disturbance enough to leave some dark soil to help warm things up. The fertility is placed close enough to the seed to give the plants access to it quickly, but is far enough away I can put down pretty much whatever I want and not have to worry about seed burn. I can seed through just about any amount of residue without it plugging or hair pinning (I seed into 90 bu stripped winter wheat stubble). There is no drill I would rather have for spring seeding conditions.
In the fall the Pillar usually does OK, but there is room for improvement. Getting deep enough to consistently reach moisture can be a challenge for the drill, and sometimes its just not possible to get deep enough. While I can get down to about a 3" seeding depth, the drill is a lot happier if I don't go much past 2". In the fall I set the cleaning wheels closer to the ground to help prevent the drill from moving as much dirt, still the back gang will sometimes push dirt over the front gang's rows. My drill is on 10" spacing and I have moved the front gang over about 1.5" so its more like 8.5" & 11.5" to help prevent burying the the front rows. This has helped, but not completely eliminated the problem. I really wish the drill had more positive seed firming to help get good germination in marginal soil moisture conditions other than just relying on the rear wheel to close the furrow and pack the seed. Despite my complaints against its fall seeding performance, the drill usually does an acceptable job. I have acquired a cheap hoe drill to use when we have an extra dry summer and moisture will be deeper than the Pillar can get to though. I know a guy a couple hours south of me who farms in about an 8" rainfall zone, where he is at its standard practice to dust the seed in in the fall and wait for rain. They don't have nearly as much snow there so they can wait for the seed to germinate after a rain and it can slowly grow all winter. For what he does the Pillar is working out great.
Pros of the Pillar:
Well built, simple design that is low maintenance and easy to work on
Better ground penetration / Hairpinning is not an issue
Can seed at shallow seed depths better than most other disc drills
Consistent seed to fertilizer separation / fertilizer is nearer to the plant compared to MRB/SFP drills
Higher disturbance - useful for spring seeding conditions to warm the soil
Excellent support from the manufacturer
Less consistent/accurate seed placement compared to disc drills that use a true gauge wheel placed beside the disc
Can't see as deep as other disc drills due to seed being placed above the bottom of the disc slot
Higher disturbance compared to other disc drills - increased chance of moisture loss in dry conditions and the back row and bury the front
No aftermarket support
Inconsistent packing pressure when in varying soil hardness conditions due to using the same wheel for closing the trench, packing, and depth control