Hi-tech trials


This technologically advanced planter will plant maize trials more accurately and improve the efficiency of research.

Hi-tech trials
Photo: Hans Lombard

Monsanto South Africa has imported a R1,5 million custom-built four-row trial plot planter from Almaco in the USA to improve the research process. Row widths on conventional planters have to be adjusted manually, and this process can take up to a day to carry out. Previously, Monsanto’s trial plots in South Africa were planted by hand, with limited control of planting depth and seed spacing.

By contrast, the four rows of the Seed PRO 360 can be adjusted on the move in just a few seconds from 75cm to 91cm and 150cm. Seed flow can also be changed electronically in the field according to the difference in fertility potential and type of soil, providing trials with more reliable results than those conducted with previous systems. The unit can even change between cultivars and adjust planting and fertiliser application rates to suit a yield map to maximise yield in the more fertile areas of the land.

The Almaco Seed Pro 360 planter for Monsanto’s trial plots. Photo courtesy of Monsanto.

Planting density can be regulated electronically on the move from 10 000 plants/ha up to 120 000 plants/ha. With two fertiliser bins the rate of fertiliser application can be varied according to the planting rate. The heavy duty construction means that the Seed PRO 360 can be operated in different soils and planting systems varying from full cultivation to no-till. Monsanto South Africa is planning a ‘Centre of Excellence’ farmer’s day in the Bothaville area on 13 March, when the new planter will be demonstrated.

Quality control
Almaco works closely with leading agronomists to develop machinery for specialised agricultural practices. The company claims that its rigorous quality control ensures less maintenance and a long service life, providing an acceptable return on investment.

The easy-to-use controls of the Pro 360 have a sunlight-visible display with a touch screen, and data can be transferred via a USB point. A crew of two oversees the planting process with a computer linked to a GPS system. Row widths, seed rates and rates of fertiliser application for the varying parameters of the test plots can be calculated on a computer back in the office, and the data transferred to the planter’s on-board computer.

Phone Andrew Bennett on 011 790 8213 or 082 316 2197, or email [email protected].