Seed rate control is made simple

About the only thing Darren Lee’s seed rate controller can’t do is dial-up some much-needed rain on the family’s Dowerin property in WA.

Darren and his wife, Nadia, together with his parents, Garry and Marj, crop about 80 per cent of their 2500-hectare ‘Rosalea’ farm to wheat, barley, canola and some lupins, although they pulled-up with 300ha to go in their program this year due to the dry conditions. They also run about 1000 Merino sheep plus lambs.

Their sowing rig includes a 12-metre (40-foot) Ausplow DBS Auseeder set on 25cm (10-inch) spacings and 14,000-litre Ausplow Multistream, triple bin air seeder pulled by a Case IH Steiger 500 tractor.

The Ausplow system came with a Farmscan Ag Canlink 3500 seed rate controller and the family recently upgraded to the manufacturer’s generation 7500 controller.

The latest model incorporates significant enhancements to the long-time popular Canlink 3000 and 3500 units and already has attracted strong early interest, while some quick retrofitting was also carried out for some growers before seeding this year.

In addition to retrofitting and Ausplow, the new controller is available with a range of air seeders, including Morris, Horwood Bagshaw, Simplicity, Gason and Smale, with its CANbus system catering to granular and liquid systems.

Its unique onscreen ‘Tile’ and ‘Tab’ layout allows users to customise the view on the 122mm (4.8-inch) colour touch screen.

In any field conditions, the Farmscan Ag 7500 controller compensates for changes in speed to maintain the target rate selected. Rates can be increased or decreased on-the-go and a master switch allows instant stop/start control when required, such as at headlands.

In the event of any rate deviation or problems with calibration or sensors, alarms can notify the cause of the problem and action can immediately be undertaken to rectify it. To attract attention, the status Tiles flash red with an audible warning to alert operators.

Flexibility and user-friendliness are key features. It is easy to calibrate and it has the ability to hold onto calibration factors per seed rate.

Darren said a cable that comes with the new controller also makes the job of calibrating easier.

“You can now take it down with you when calibrating. It saves having to climb up and down the tractor,’’ he said. “The 7500 is also a bit more compact, which helps to not block up your windscreen.’’

Controlling seed and both granular and liquid fertilisers, Darren said the new model was very simple to use. “The tab style and the touch icons are a lot easier to use – it’s more intuitive.’’

He said he occasionally changes rates depending upon the volumes of seed and fertiliser remaining and the area to be sown. “The 7500 has certainly done what it is required to do and we have good backup from Farmscan Ag, which is important.’’

The Lee’s sowing system also uses a Farmscan Ag 1020 zone blockage monitor for further peace of mind.

In Victoria, Mallee dealer Brad Petschel, of Brad Petschel’s Auto Elec at Hopetoun, said the 7500 seed rate controller was prompting users of existing Farmscan Ag controllers to upgrade to the latest model.

“Sales have been strong and the interest is getting stronger,’’ said Brad, who also operates a 485-hectare cropping enterprise in the area.” He said the flexibility to customise the front-end and set it up to individual requirements, whether liquids or granular, was a big plus.

“The 7500 does more than the previous controllers, it has different set-up functions for different applications and the new display is much easier to read.’’

Brad said farmers could also put weigh scales on bins and weigh how much was going out via the Farmscan Ag 7500 controller. “Farmers sometimes lose a lid on an air seeder and then don’t know anything – and nothing may go out. By doing this, you could see the weight measurement going down.’’

“Calibration factors can sometimes be messed up as well, so this would be handy.’’ Farmscan Ag Sales and Service Manager Ian Giles said the 7500 controller also incorporates the ability for shape files for variable rate applications. These can be imported from most GIS programs supplied by agronomists and easily uploaded via USB.

Simple logging and mapping helps further simplify operations and verifications, ensuring compatibility with GPS and Quality Assurance (QA) requirements. The data can be exported via USB and imported into farm management software for printing, verification and record keeping.

The Farmscan Ag 7500 seed rate controller also features full serial commands and reporting capabilities, allowing GPS rate control and coverage mapping. For more information, growers can contact Farmscan Ag Sales on (08) 6102 3200 or visit