New system adds precision to fertilizer application

New system adds precision to fertilizer application

Great Plains partners with Captstan Ag Systems to create ultra-precise in-furrow application system.

One of the highlights of the National Farm Machinery Show was the launch of a new system from Great Plains that puts the word "precision" to the test when it comes to in-furrow application of material. They planter-mounted system was developed using the Capstan Ag System pulse width modulation technology - which has been used on sprayers for 20 years.

This exhibit shows how precisely the AccuShot system can deliver fertilizer to the ground. It's new from Great Plains Mfg.

That tech, mated to an electronic seed meter, allows creation of a system that can actually drop just the amount of fertilizer, insecticide, or other material in the furrow right where you want it. Need it ahead of the seed? No problem. Behind the seed? No problem. Even directly on the seed is easy with this system. And since the system does not deliver material unless it detects that a seed has come down the tube, it offers an 'auto-shutoff' setup so you're not overlapping rows. Your row-shutoff system essentially turns off the system.

Called AccuShot, the new system is available for the 2016 system on specific Great Plains planter models and there's the opportunity to retrofit in the future. “Dribbling fertilizer along the row isn’t going to work as plant populations start to rise,” says Tom Evans, agronomic development manager, Great Plains Ag Division. He explains that precision application of fertilizer offers opportunities to save money and boost yields, but just how precise?

Evans says the idea came from an Illinois agronomist who asked the company why they didn’t use the high-tech pulse-width modulation system that is used on many sprayers these days to boost precision application of nutrients. Evans, and other at Great Plains thought that was an interesting idea and reached out to Capstan Ag Systems.

Capstan has been building pulse-width modulation systems for 20 years, and has worked as an OEM supplier to Case IH and others. “When they came to us with the idea, we already had a planter concept we’d tried a few years before and had sitting on the shelf,” says Troy Kolb, integration engineer, Capstan Ag Systems.

Adds Paul Galle, design engineer, Great Plains: “The first prototype we built worked.” And that was four years ago. In the ensuing years the company refined the system to include monitoring systems.

“We could apply but we had no way of knowing that we were doing what we thought we were,” he recalls.

Kolb explains that in essence the concept is pretty simple, read a seed sensor and fire a solenoid in a timed fashion. The trick was developing the user interface, including an interesting key fob that allows the grower to do in-season maintenance, and control the system remotely.

Evans points to field research showing that less fertilizer can be used to achieve the same yield in a field. In addition a farmer could use lower-cost, but "hotter" starters with this system too. “Growers usually use orthophosphate starter fertilizers that have lower salts and are less likely to hurt the seed, in case the product hits the seed,” Evans explains. “With this new planter system, since you know you’re not putting the product on the seed, you can use a lower cost polyphosphate starter, offering even more savings.”

You can learn more about the system by watching the video from Great Plains below, and by visiting accushotsystem.com. Check out a video of the system at work below:

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