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Seeding decision rigour ensures machine confidence at Coorow

McIntosh & Son

The Birch family’s seeding rigs at Coorow, comprising 21-metre Morris Quantum air drills and 19,500-litre 9550 tow-behind air carts with 5000L liquid tanks pulled by Case IH Quadtracs, pictured with Eliot Jones, McIntosh Distribution, Matthew Howard, McIntosh & Son Moora, Daniel and Rod Birch, and rig drivers Blair McGill and Craig Guelfi.

Daniel Birch


Northern WA wheatbelt

Continuous cropping wheat, canola and lupin enterprise on sandplain to heavy loam soils.

How did you approach the decision to upgrade from extended use of an 18-metre Flexi-Coil bar and air cart to a Morris Quantum air drill and 9550 tow-behind air cart with section control technology?

“We created an analysis spreadsheet for all bars with 10-15 points, like under-seed cultivation, flotation and trash clearance. We attributed values to each one and then looked at all bars on the market and gave a rating. With some things like transport width, which is important with the different farm blocks we have, it put a line through some bars straight away.’’

What were the key attractions with the Morris Quantum, in addition to excellent flotation?

“It’s a differently-engineered bar than any other, providing good digging pressure for under-seed cultivation. We have to go harder in the heavier loams, so we set the breakout pressure higher and the length of points is a key. Having four rows also allows good trash clearance. This is critical because we want to retain our stubbles and we prioritise 250-millimetre tine spacings. Not all bars have 250mm spacings.’’

How do you rate the depth control with the new seeding rig?

“We get better control of our seeding depth with the independent openers on the Quantum. We know we are getting better depth control from visually looking at the depths. It’s good having really accurate depth control, but a lot of care is needed to see that it suits your strategy and the seasonal conditions.’’

Were new Auto-Lift and end-of-row turning features useful?

“You can use the turning feature to visually look at the bar and all the points, rather than looking at the bar to line everything up. The key value is repeatability – the same turn every time – and not having seeding misses. Where you have misses, you have weeds.’’

What were some of the important features you desired with the Morris 9550 air cart?

“Filling was important because we do a single, over-the-top fill. The cart needed to be designed so we can fill from one position. We went with tow-behind so we could use large single wheels to assist with turning. This also enables the two trucks (granular/seed and liquids) to be filling simultaneously. The rest of the cart is excellent. The quad-steer hitch is a really good feature.’’

McIntosh & Son

The two Morris rigs used the manufacturer’s machine-to-machine (M2M) mapping feature this season, ensuring each rig knew the area already worked by the other. Daniel Birch says Morris M2M was extremely helpful with casual staff who were not familiar with paddocks. “It’s also priceless when you are working in tandem on a nightshift, when it can be very hard to know where the other machine has been.’’

How do you assess the benefits of the Input Control Technology?

“We’ve analysed the old seeding numbers for each paddock and the new seeding numbers, and with the boundary mapping and section control, we’ve conservatively saved 3 per cent, including up to 7pc savings in overlap. We’ve also analysed the cost-benefit and it’s about a two to three years payback.’’

You decided on a second, identical sowing rig this season, but with Morris Auto-Pack technology for variable pressure packing, plus changed to using upright air kits. What were the results?

“Auto-Pack has been a game-changer in achieving consistent seed depth and under-seed cultivation – and in particular in allowing consistent seeding outcomes across different soil types. It digs harder in harder soil types and softer in softer soils, where it also reduces draught and fuel consumption. It does a far better job than any operator could do – it’s just constantly fluctuating. We have also been looking at blockage monitoring technology.’’

You are also using the Morris machine-to-machine (M2M) mapping feature with the rigs. How does that help?

“It’s an important part of running two machines in the one paddock. They basically paint each other’s map, so you are not working or missing areas that have already been worked. M2M has been extremely helpful with casual staff who are not familiar with paddocks. It’s also priceless when you are working in tandem on a nightshift, when it can be very hard to know where the other machine has been.’’

Have you had good support for the rigs through local dealer, McIntosh & Son at Moora?

“We had the opener upgrade on the first Morris Quantum earlier and we couldn’t have asked for better support over the last two years.’’