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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Questions for those of you running independent opener drills (disk or hoe). How do you go about setting the drill in general? Let's say we're seeding canola at 1/2". So first you set the packer wheel on each shank to be a half inch above the opener, correct? Then let's say you do a test run and start digging in the soil and find the seed is too shallow. So do you just increase the packing pressure? Besides setting the initial depth, when do you adjust the individual packer wheels?

I'm just trying to figure out the advantages of the independent opener over the standard air drill that I have (flexicoil hoe drill). From what I can see the main advantages are that that it allows the use of disc openers (though I'd probably stick to hoe), follows the terrain a little better, and when you turn you lift the packer wheels right off of the ground so you reduce compaction on the head lands. Is this accurate?

Are there any disadvantages you've found with the independent opener drills (besides more bearings)?
 

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When I am setting a drill I usually adjust the individual units depth by changing the press wheel height. I have a J.D. 520 drill with adjustable depth wheels right beside the disk opener that I really like for planting canola . On the John Drill you adjust the depth wheel height. On both types of drill I don't usually adjust the spring pressure. If the entire drill is planting shallow I might lengthen the top link on the drill caddy to get more pressure on the openers. It seems like once you get the drill set for tire tracks from the tractor and drill drive wheels you can go through and change every opener two positions or whatever the case may be. I don't think there is ever a perfect setting because the drill weight changes. I try to set it half full and then fill the hopper more often so the fluctuations in weight is less. My biggest complaint with a drill is when the press wheel is a long way from the opener so it doesn't follow the changes in the field like ridges and holes. That is why I prefer the J.D. drill. It's very seldom that I finish a field and am really comfortable with the depth because you always worry about the furrow filling in or any number of things. In a perfect world I would get done and have 6 inches of wet snow filled by warm weather the rest of the spring.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Oh okay. This is a box drill?

I'm also interested to hear from folks running air drills with independent openers like Bourgault air drills and similar.

The new Versatile air drill looks very interesting. Independent openers with automatic variable packing pressure.
 

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I went from a flexi 5000 to a seed hawk. With flexi coil I was always changing the depth and never satisfied. I haven't changed depth on seed hawk in the last 4 years, seeding flax, canola, wheat, and soybeans, and have never been disappointed with emergence. Now we have not been short of moisture in the last four years either. The muddier it gets the more build up I get on the packer wheels, so the shallower it seeds. As far as using pressure to change the depth I don't feel that makes a lot of difference. What I miss about the Flexi coil is the trash clearance, simplicity, reliability, and did I mention trash clearance.
 

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This all depends how fussy you are?

The paralink openers are more prone to changing depth through uneven terrain. A perfectly set opener that drops 2" into a rut, just shallowed out by 1". They will still do a better job that a slab-frame drill but a true parallel-link opener is the best at following the ground for depth. This now requires adjustment on individual openers which can be time-consuming, how much so depends on the particular drill.

Adjusting depth with down-pressure is somewhat possible but it is very easy to over-pack in wetter conditions and it is also harder on the machine to run higher packing pressures. I know some guys that never change depth but I am not like that at all. I usually end up changing depth when going between say wheat and canola, different stubble types often requires an adjustment for me too. Worked/unworked soil behaves differently and requires changing depth. Maybe I am too fussy but that's what I have seen/done. For the same reason I would have a hard time not running an independant opener drill in the future.;)
 

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I run a seed master but do the same with my planter, I drop her in the dirt at the speed in plan to run at and stop it dead. I check between the opener and the closing wheels. With the trench open it makes it easy to get the most accurate reading of where it is at, I check a few rows and adjust accordingly if needed
 

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Stayed with air seeders too long. An air seeder is a machine that can do many different jobs poorly and not one thing well. Then used an air-drill with insufficient flotation and unbalanced weight that required lots of awkward adjusting from field to field, or, look at not uniform stands for the rest of the year. Now with a hoe type precision drill, I still fail to adequately describe the joy I feel with the infinite control we have to adjust seed placement for differing conditions. Is it the perfect machine? Course not. Can be a little tedious to change the bolt to change packing depth but so what. Line up a few helpers and do it in 20 minutes. Most adjustments can be made with hydraulic pressures. Doesn't clear trash quite as well either, but a real bonus happens around wet spots. Raise it out of the ground and everything is rolling on the drill tires. You do not have packers sinking out of sight and will most likely not get stuck. Umm, yeah---most likely...
To answer your question about finding out the canola seed is too shallow you would decrease packing pressure which allows the opener to run deeper. Also increasing opener pressure increases depth also but not as dramatically as decreasing packer pressure. In extremely muddy fields decreasing packing pressure prevented setting up that very hard layer of soil that seed struggles to grow through. We also found the automatic setting worked very well as it adjusted pressures on the go. The lighter soils on the hills seemed to emerge with the rest of the field instead of a week or more later like with other drills. But on the automatic setting, the packing pressure is always about 200 lbs more than the opener pressure so you can't use that on extremely muddy fields. And I am talking fields so wet that you couldn't be seeding with a regular drill. In your sandier soils you might not see the benefits as much as we do with our tighter (heavier) soils. You might have to weigh these issues very carefully to justify the extra expense. If you suffer from any form of uneven emergence for whatever reason this purchase would be worth considering. Timing of spraying, especially for fungicides, factors in as well. Good luck with your decision making.

John
 

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All I do to set my morris is set three or four openers a different depth, then try it at the speed you travel pick the one you want set the rest of the drill. I like to set it with the least pressure you need to keep the shanks in the ground, that way if you set it for canola you just crank up pressure and you can put the openers deep enough for wheat and such. That being said I have not changed more than the pressure for 4 years.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Interesting. Thank you all. So if I get this right some of you don't change packing pressure very much, but change the depth on each shank. Others leave the shanks set, and increase or decrease packing pressure to get the shanks the depth you want. Is this correct? I'm sure some probably do both. Just trying to get a feel for how they are operated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
SWFarmService, I've never thought of checking the depth between the shank and the packer. That is convenient since the trench is open. But is not the depth after packing more important to verify? That's what we've always done. In certain soil conditions the packers could bury the seed more or less, no?
 

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Some diff between BG and SH type drill's .
SH openers put seed at more consistent dept cause fert knive is cutting trench and seed is dropped at consistent dept no matter what conditions are , unless straw is not been taking care of.
Hardly ever change dept on opener just play with pressure in one season.(wht ca).
 

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I always thought using the packing pressure to set seed depth kinda defeated the purpose of being able to adjust it. We set to the packing pressure where we want and adjust depth after. Too little pressure makes shanks more unstable and they will trip more often when encountering harder ground nd giving uneven depth. We use a Bourgault QDA and Can adjust depth in 5 minutes at the most. We have a lot of variable soils from one feild to the next and they require different depths and packing pressures. We still also have a 5710 and can really tell the difference between the 2 drills.
We always check depth after the packer because of soil flow and can also check how it is packing also.
 

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SWFarmService, I've never thought of checking the depth between the shank and the packer. That is convenient since the trench is open. But is not the depth after packing more important to verify? That's what we've always done. In certain soil conditions the packers could bury the seed more or less, no?
It will very a little as the closing wheels or packer may leave a divit or a small ridge but it makes it alot easier to check as it is very easy to get a good representation of the moisture you are seeding in and how the trench looks. I starter cecking this way back when we ran a concord because I always had fear of the front being off from the rear
 

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The thought is that we need to put canola at 1/2 inch and wheat at 1 1/2 inches. First of all nothing can seed at 1/2 inch consistintly. I have stopped and got out and checked the neighbors fields and 1 inch is where canola actually ends up even on the shallowest setting with seedhawk and seedmaster. Broadcast is the only way to get it shallower but then lots is on top. Can be better but risky.

So 1 inch works for canola and works for wheat. Thats why you just leave it at that depth and go.

Packing pressure is related to moisture. Dry loose soil up the pressure to get contact, wet soil down pressure or it will never come up.
 

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The thought is that we need to put canola at 1/2 inch and wheat at 1 1/2 inches. First of all nothing can seed at 1/2 inch consistintly. I have stopped and got out and checked the neighbors fields and 1 inch is where canola actually ends up even on the shallowest setting with seedhawk and seedmaster. Broadcast is the only way to get it shallower but then lots is on top. Can be better but risky.

So 1 inch works for canola and works for wheat. Thats why you just leave it at that depth and go.

Packing pressure is related to moisture. Dry loose soil up the pressure to get contact, wet soil down pressure or it will never come up.
You're on the right track... Most of these openers put the seed to the side of the trench, and unless there is something bent or wore out the shortest distance to emergence will actually be more lateral to the side of the furrow. We generally leave our depth at canola depth for everything (canola, wheat, barley, soybeans, etc.) and get very good emergence. The first spring with our independent opener drill we thought we had to bury cereals like was traditionally done, and emergence wasn't as good as later on when we ran shallower.

One of the more difficult things with most of these drills with independent openers (besides trash clearance) is that they work best at reduced speeds. Unless you have a disc drill, speed greatly influences seed placement.
 
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