The independent opener drill’s impact on crop growth and development
There has been a rapid adoption of independent opener drills by Saskatchewan farmers due to these machines superior depth control precision. In 2008 and 2009 crops grown by an independent opener drill (Morris Contour) were compared to a traditional air hoe drill (Morris Maxim II). A visual improvement in above ground biomass was noted in cereal crops. This resulted in a consistent yield improvement (~5% increase) in these crops in 2008. There was no visual difference in biomass or yield between the two machines with canola. In 2009 early season emergence counts revealed that there was no difference in emergence between the two machines. This suggests differences in biomass were not due to superior emergence resulting from improved depth control precision improved fertilizer-seed separation with the different ground engagement tools used with each machine. Rather, the improved biomass development offered by the Morris Contour drill appears to be due to the increased seed bed utilization of the paired row opener. Yield improvements in 2009 were limited to barley (~5% increase). The lack of yield response with wheat in 2009 and canola in both years may be due to yield compensation by these crops. It appears that independent opener drills may help develop higher yield potential than traditional air hoe drills. Realizing this yield potential will be dependent on farming practices, the crops grown, as well as the climate during critical development phases of these crops.
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