Indiana farmer Steve Hicks offers proof that seeing is believing. When we first spoke with him, the Indiana farmer had recently tested the new Sunflower 9830NT high-speed air drill, which had just won an AE50 award in 2016 for product innovation from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.
“We used a demonstrator model last fall to plant cover crops and some of our winter wheat,” says Hicks. “We liked it well enough that we bought a new one earlier this year.
“It does an awesome job of managing the residue,” continues Hicks, who farms around 5,000 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat with his father and uncle near Covington, in the western part of the Hoosier State. “We do a lot of no-till, and it gives us a way to plant a wide range of seed sizes while also getting away from some tillage.”
Like the Sunflower 9830, which was introduced a few years ago, the 9830NT features single-disc openers, which allow the planter to operate at speeds up to 10 mph or greater. Plus, the new narrow-transport model features a transport width of only 11 feet, 5 inches, making it easy to move efficiently from field to field.
“It also has the seed tank integrated into the frame, which greatly reduces the overall length compared to a conventional air seeder/cart configuration,” explains Tom Draper, Sunflower seeding and tillage product marketing manager. “In addition, the 175-bushel tank consists of two commodity chambers divided in a 60-to-40 split.”
The forward chamber, continues Draper, has a “capacity of 105 bushels and a rear-chamber capacity of 70 bushels, which allows prescription seed and fertilizer application simultaneously.”
Draper explains that the three sections of the air drill’s 30-foot working width are controlled by the AGCO®FUSE® Technologies AgControl™ system. Such technology features independent turn compensation, section control and variable-rate control, and as-applied data for all three sections.
Perhaps the best feature of the 9830NT, though, is the versatility, according to Darren Goebel, AGCO director of Global Commercial Crop Care. “A producer can use this machine to plant wheat in the fall and then come back in the spring and use it to plant soybeans in twin 6-inch rows on 15-inch centers,” he says. “At the same time, you can band fertilizer next to the seed, which helps conserve resources while improving plant performance.
“We’ve also added an option to split the rows with anhydrous ammonia, so a producer can use it in a separate pass to variable-rate two, or even three, different types of fertilizer. As another option, we’ve just introduced a new row-spacing option that, when combined with row cleaners, allows a producer to put down his fertilizer while making 30-inch strips,” he adds. “Then he can come back and plant corn on the strips with his planter, while using the 9830NT to plant twin-row soybeans on 30-inch centers.
“Consequently, it doesn’t matter whether a producer is growing small grains, corn, soybeans or cover crops,” he concludes. “The Sunflower 9830NT is a machine that is highly configurable to any cropping program.