New zero till planter assists cropping program at Katherine Research Station

By Callen Thompson, Senior Extension Agronomist, Katherine

In December staff at Katherine Research Station took delivery of a 1590 John Deere single disc planter. The new planter will allow field experiments to be sown using zero till principles. The planter will also be used to sow demonstration paddocks and improved pasture for DPIR livestock research on Katherine Research Station and Douglas Daly Research Farm.

The benefit of this planter is that it is able to sow into heavy stubble loads and residue from previous crops or pasture. This means that paddocks do not need to be cultivated or burnt prior to sowing. Retaining stubble increases the soils ability to conserve moisture and limits hard setting. Stubble cover will also reduce soil temperature, which will increase seedling survival.

An added advantage of zero till is that the combination of stubble cover and reduced soil disturbance leads to reduced early weed seed germination. The resulting reduced competition increases crop establishment and leads to a reduced need for weed spraying operations.

The John Deere planter has a single disc opener rather than a tine. The disc cuts a slot through the soil and stubble then the seed and fertiliser falls into the slot. Cutting a slot in the residue results in no residue being dragged along by the planter as can happen with tined planters. A firming wheel pushes the seed into the soil to enable good seed to soil contact and a covering wheel closes the slot.

The way the sowing unit is designed allows for more accurate seed placement and depth control. One of the critical factors in sowing pasture is seeding depth. Pasture seed is often small and can lack the ability to germinate from depth. Most pasture seed should be sown at around 10mm or less. The John Deere planter has a depth wheel that stops the seed from being sown any deeper than the operator desires.

The new planter will be a great asset to DPIR staff as they evaluate new crops and pastures for northern Australia.

For more information on zero till, or assistance when setting up your planter check out the links below or contact Callen Thompson on 8973 9724.

New zero till planter assists cropping program at Katherine Research StationNew zero till planter assists cropping program at Katherine Research Station

Last updated: 27 March 2017