The Techni-Plant FL was simply on a wish-list in October 2014 when OneCrop, a start-up film technology company, approached local manufacturer Norseman to develop a precision planter that could also lay film on a commercially viable broadacre scale.
The brief was to build a high-speed planter that could also cover the seed row with a biodegradable film in a one-pass operation regardless of paddock conditions or farming system.
The film was 450mm wide (17.7-in) and came in rolls up to 5.31km (1742ft) long.
It had 76mm (3-inch) slots spaced 25mm (1-inch) apart for the length of the roll for the seedlings to emerge through.
Film layers have been utilised in the horticultural industry for many years but never had they been required to operate at such speeds across such a diverse range of conditions.
There was nothing else like it on the market, but Norseman had the credentials to get it done, as this family owned and operated company has been involved in the manufacture of precision planting equipment since 1980 when they first introduced the Kinze double disc opener planter to Australia.
Father and son team, Rick and Michael Freeman from Norseman Machinery would be taking on a challenge that none had conquered previously.
They took some assurance from the fact there were already film layers being used in horticulture. But the obvious difference for the wish-list planter is that it would need to be high-speed, and capable of planting as zero till or in irrigation furrows.
Development was underway by late 2014 and after building numerous prototypes and spending countless hours in paddock test mode, the first high-speed Precision planter/film layer was launched in May 2016. The Norseman Techni-Plant FL was now operating in real world conditions.
Norseman had cleverly mounted the film dispenser to the back of the planter with its own parallelogram linkage flotation system and utilized the industry leading Precision Planting Delta Force system to control down pressure on the film layer unit. It was everything that OneCrop had envisaged.
It was able to lay the film directly along the seed row, then secure the edges of the film with soil to prevent the wind from moving it around. All the while precisely aligning the perforations in the film over the top of the emerging seedlings.
Norseman developed the Techni-Plant FL high speed precision planter with an integrated film layer – as a world first.
Growers from as far apart as southern NSW and North American cotton fields began utilising the Techni-Plant FL in earnest.
Cotton , Corn, Sweet Corn and CBD Hemp crops have now been planted with the Techni-Plant FL and have achieved an average yield bump of 25 per cent with the best performing crops out yielding their neighbours by a whopping 47 per cent.
The targets for OneCrop’s film are to maintain full integrity as a greenhouse for 8 weeks and to begin degrading after 90 days.
By the time the crop is ready for harvest, the film should very nearly be completely broken down.
For growers in Australia’s southern growing regions, normally constrained by cool soil temperatures at planting, soil temperatures increases of 3-7 deg/Celcius is a welcome advantage.
For growers in fuller season regions the benefits of increased seedling vigour and moisture conservation are a significant advantage.
Cotton growers in the most southern regions now had a longer sowing window to avoid muddy paddocks and frost.
Looking back on the issues that Norseman faced in getting the Techni-Plant FL into full production.
It was imperative for the planter to handle all sowing conditions.
From big flat broadacres or heavily undulating country as well as sowing irrigation beds.
To achieve this, Norseman introduced a design to control the down pressure by building it on a parallelogram that found its own height rather than having the height defined by a tool bar.
An electric over hydraulic system applied the down pressure on the film while the coulters floated to track the contours of the ground.
The end result, was a planter that operated quickly with speeds averaging 12-13kph.
This allows the Techni-Plant FL to meet the requirements of all cotton and corn growers as well as high-value horticulture crops.
Orders are now being taken for the Techni-Plant FL for the upcoming season.
Call Norseman’s Toowoomba manufacturing plant direct on tel: 07 4633 0750 or email email@example.com see the website at: http://www.nmi.net.au/products/browse/33/planter-film-layer