Monsanto South Africa has purchased two 17-row Monosem precision vacuum planters, two three-row planters and two Case IH Magnum 290 tractors fitted with dual tyres front and rear. The 17-row unit, currently unique in South Africa, plants male and female seeds simultaneously.
Previously, two separate planters were required to plant male and female rows, with the female seed being planted first. “We can now interplant the male between the female seed rows, giving a female area of 100%. With the traditional system, we achieved only 83%,” says Lukie van der Merwe, manager: field cultivation equipment for Monsanto.
This is considerably more cost-effective, enabling larger areas to be planted in less time, while the higher yield helps Monsanto meet the growing demand for its maize seed locally and abroad. The planters have no chains or belts; all operations are controlled hydraulically.
Plant density can be adjusted from 15 000 to 115 000 plants/ha while the planter is moving. Row widths are 760mm. Around 40ha/day can be planted; on a good day, this can go up to 70ha. To produce more pollen, the two three-row planters can be employed to plant male seed again, five days after the first planting.
GPS technology enables the tractors to maintain a straight course automatically. Before planting commences, a drive is taken around the land so that the boundaries are entered on the system. Whenever a turn is made on a boundary, the planter bins cut out one by one so that no seed is wasted.