Pillar Laser - The Combine Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-09-2019, 07:10 AM Thread Starter
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Pillar Laser

Hi all. we are thinking of upgrading our current disc to perhaps a Pillar disc and wondering what everyones thoughts are ,we are in Australia

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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-09-2019, 11:15 AM
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Hi all. we are thinking of upgrading our current disc to perhaps a Pillar disc and wondering what everyones thoughts are ,we are in Australia
I've had a Pillar for about 5 years now and overall I am happy with the drill. It was my first disc drill and since I purchased it I have come to appreciate how each drill has its own advantages and disadvantages, with some working better in certain situations than others. What kind of seeding conditions do you have? No-till? Do you fallow? Is reaching moisture a concern? What kind of residue do you seed into?

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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 11:16 AM
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Hi all. we are thinking of upgrading our current disc to perhaps a Pillar disc and wondering what everyones thoughts are ,we are in Australia

spent several hours yesterday with a fellow ( a no-tiller) who purchased and used a new one with the Mark 3 openers on it. Didn't take any pics of them, assumed they would be on their website, but only pic I could find this mornong is on their facebook page,. Doing same job, but totally redesigned - as in heavy duty!!
Farmer is just tickled with this drill! He was dry this spring, but not as dry as this area!
Pic of late seeded canola
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 12:21 PM
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spent several hours yesterday with a fellow ( a no-tiller) who purchased and used a new one with the Mark 3 openers on it. Didn't take any pics of them, assumed they would be on their website, but only pic I could find this mornong is on their facebook page,. Doing same job, but totally redesigned - as in heavy duty!!
Farmer is just tickled with this drill! He was dry this spring, but not as dry as this area!
Pic of late seeded canola
That looks great! Do you know how deep that was seeded?
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 03:10 PM
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I am happy with mine. I think each design has its benefits. I am happy with a disc drill and so the question is what design is best. The Pillar is fairly simple in my opinion. It's 6 years now and I don't plan to trade any time soon so longevity and simplicity are always important too me. I will accept some performance issues to have these things. But those performance issues are entirely different dependent on conditions which can change quite a bit from year to year. So the reason one goes to a different design to solve one issue may not be an issue the next year. Our land here is pretty variable from clay hills to sand/gravel to heavy soil in low areas, sloughs that are wet one year, dry the next. Some places like gumbo when wet. Some sort of spiked closing wheel ahead of the packer would solve the issues I have with slot not being closed in wet clay. A half an inch of rain a few days after seeding will minimize that problem too. Or a dry year means that clay is not wet enough to be an issue.

I should have changed my discs this year, they were down to about 16 1/4" and i thought 16" was the limit. See the manual says 16 1/2. I suspect some of my germination issues seeding oilseeds at 1" this year was because I didn't change discs. Many things that appear a design issue can be solved by the operator. Setting the cylinder depth stops as required does matter for getting penetration in tough conditions. You can't necessarily set them once and do all adjustments for depth via packer wheel. I come to appreciate the boost gauge I put in the tractor as I can notice when a 1/4" shim change starts getting the openers to nose in better. Usually see an extra 2 psi boost and more consistent load from what I find is not enough penetration to a better setting. You can certainly keep pulling more shims out and really get the openers to dig but that is not necessary for me. Maybe this year I should have went a little more aggressive. Everything is a learning curve. The Pillar is no different.
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 04:45 PM
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I should have changed my discs this year, they were down to about 16 1/4" and i thought 16" was the limit. See the manual says 16 1/2. I suspect some of my germination issues seeding oilseeds at 1" this year was because I didn't change discs.
You are so right about disc replacement and I think that goes for all disc seeder . When you do you preseason checks on your seeder if your pondering on whether to change your discs or not, just do it. Your knuckles will thank you later. When everything is going wrong at seeding with a disc planter and your thinking to yourself, itís just the conditions. Sure as **** a new set of discs will fix it, maybe not every time but at least 75% of the time
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 05:38 PM
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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

Cons:
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
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 07:00 PM
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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.

A worthy discussion for its own thread. Especially the openers that follow the tractor tracks.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 11:39 PM
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That looks great! Do you know how deep that was seeded?

measured at about 1.25" plus or minus a bit!
They did make a couple passes a bit deeper and emergence was poor - about 1.75"


On a bit different note , thought you might find ineresting - a comment from Betty Schoenhofer:

This week, I will be going to the Spokane area to visit a Dry-land Research Farm about an hour and a half south of Spokane. We are cooperating with WSU for a project using Technotill to seed fall crops in extremely dry conditions. We will try a variety of crops, including canola, with seeding taking place in August and September.
I have been told that in some conditions, they are seeding wheat 5 inches deep to get into moisture. At that depth, wheel packers are putting a lot of soil over the seed; they are thinking that Technotill may alleviate that problem.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-17-2019, 12:48 AM
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I have been told that the Pillar drill does not work well in heavy wet clay.

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