Drop tubes allow dual urea and cover crop seed application

New granular/seed tubes for RoGator put the right products in the right places, between the rows, not on them

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Glacier FarmMedia – Farmers can now apply 150 pounds per acre urea while simultaneously applying 20 pounds per acre cover crop seed through new drop tubes retrofitted to a RoGator AirMax Precision R1/R2.

The new drop tube kit is designed for between-row application of in-season dry granular fertilizer and precisely seeding cover crops into standing row crops, says AGCO’s field execution manager Craig Jorgensen in an interview.

Jorgensen says the technology can accurately apply 150 pounds granular and at the same time apply a low 20 pounds of seed.

“The urea and seed meet each other at the manifold, which is at the back of the machine,” says Jorgensen, adding that the machine has one box dedicated to seed and the other dedicated to fertilizer.

“They each have their own conveyor going to the back where they meet their air tube on the boom. The seed and fertilizer drop onto the manifold at the same spot, so they have a good uniform blend. And actually, there’s two conveyors for each product, one for the left half of the boom and one for the right half.

“Each conveyor has its own hydraulic motor, which allows us to have turn compensation. When you turn in the headlands or around a pothole, the fast side of the boom gets more seed and granular, and the slow side of the boom gets less. So you get an even rate all the way through the turn. That’s standard equipment.”

According to AGCO, the tubes direct granules below the crop canopy so nutrients don’t get caught in crop whorls and can reach the ground, where they move into the soil and are taken up by the plant. Air delivers the mix of seed and fertilizer down the drop tubes, evenly distributing granules on the surface.

The AirMax R2 introduced independently metered twin bins so operators can seed cover crops between rows and top-dress late-season urea at the same time without prior blending. This is possible because of the AirMax UltraSpread low-speed, high-torque radial piston hydraulic motors.

UltraSpread motors accurately manage high, low and variable rates because control algorithms are fed by sensors that provide nearly 250 percent more feedback than previous systems, according to a news release. This allows AirMax Precision to adjust more frequently, providing greater overall rate control.

The drop tubes replace the standard nozzles and attach quickly to the AirMax boom with two clamps. The top and mid-sections of these three-inch-diameter tubes are smooth grade 304 stainless steel. Flexible tubing connects the two steel sections, allowing tubes to always point toward the ground. An additional hose section at the bottom is gentle on plants.

The kit includes tubes for all 28 outlets, which are spaced at 30 inches off-centre across the 70-foot boom. Hydraulic tilt switches on the joystick raise and lower the boom tips as needed to adjust the drop tube position as terrain height changes.

AirMax Precision R1/R2 can apply from 20 pounds to 850 pounds of material per acre at 10 miles per hour, with less than five per cent variation in rate across the entire width of the boom.

Jorgensen says the hydraulic cooler is coated with a Heresite coating that resists rust and prevents corrosion in the harsh granular fertilizer environment.

The retrofit kit setup is expected to be available this fall and on new R1/R2 machines later this summer.

This article was originally published at The Western Producer.

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