Evaluation of opener design and packing force requirements on no-till seeded canola, wheat, and pea
An understanding of how direct seeding implement opener design and on-row packing pressure influence crop emergence and grain yield would help producers in their selection of appropriate seeding equipment for their farm and soil conditions. A field trial was conducted at three locations in Saskatchewan between 1997 and 1999 to evaluate the effect of direct seeding opener and packer design in combination with on-row packing pressure on the emergence and grain yield of wheat, canola and field pea. The opener-packer combinations included a Bourgault spoon with both a steel "V" and flat rubber packers, a Morris paired-row with both a steel V and flat rubber packer, and a 30 cm sweep with 13 cm spread of seed followed by a 13 cm pneumatic tire. Packing was applied at 0, 74, 124, 174 and 224 lb/wheel. The 0 packing treatment had no wheel following the opener (unpacked). The locations were selected to range in soil texture, and included a loam (Sylvania), silt loam (Watrous) and heavy clay (Indian Head). The differences observed between opener + packer combinations in this study were varied and generally not in excess of approximately 10% for grain yield, and almost always associated with opener design not packer type. Despite the variable results, there was a tendency for higher pea and wheat emergence with the sweep + tire compared with other opener types at the site years that tended to be drier. Also, grain yield tended to be greater for the sweep + tire at the location that tended to be wet in most years and had a heavy-textured soil. Packing pressure responses tended to be associated with different years and varied among the large-seeded crops (pea and wheat) and canola. Generally speaking, 74 lb per press wheel will provide optimal emergence and grain yield across varied environmental conditions, regardless of the opener + packer combination. For example, 5% more pea seedlings emerged with some amount of packing compared with no packing in 1997. Wheat grain yield was 13% greater at three of the location by year combinations, and wheat emergence was 9% greater in 1998, with some amount of packing. Excessive packing pressure (i.e., the two highest vs. lower packing pressures) resulted in 11 less canola seedlings in 1999, a wet year. It would seem that the choice of opener + packer combination will be of agronomic or economic significance across typical environmental conditions that occur across the Canadian prairies. A packing pressure of 74 lb per press wheel will provide optimal emergence and grain yield across varied environmental conditions.
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