By Sylvio Tessier (Ph.D), Past President of CSBE
Limitations of precision planting in conservation agriculture include the capacity of dealing with high residue cover, traveling at high field speeds, and control of uniform seed placement. To overcome these limitations, Dr. Hongwen Li at China Agricultural University (CAU) developed some technologies for precision planting in no-till systems. The technologies have several innovative features, including high speed and accurate seed placement.
The metering mechanism was innovatively designed to improve the effectiveness of feeding and sigulation. It facilitates a stable seed placement, and therefore solving the long-standing problems of ununiform seed placement at high field speeds. The type of openers used are good choices, as they have low soil disturbance and high ability of cutting crop residues. The openers are equipped with a depth-control mechanism capable of following the field surface contour, so that the variation of field surface does not affect the opener cutting depth. The resultant seeding depth is expected to be uniform across the field.
Dr. Li also proposed the concept of strip seeding and put it into use on a no-till seeder. Same as strip tillage, strip seeding is considered as a special form of conservation practices. The no-till seeder was able to seed wheat on fresh corn stubbles. Seeding in such a system has been very challenging in the past, but Dr. Li made it possible.
No-till seeding is a sustainable farming practice that is the trend of future agriculture. Precision planting is at the centre of no-till seeding for increasing crop yields. Researchers in North America are looking forward to hearing more about the further development of promising technologies, like the high-speed precision planting and strip seeding technologies of CAU.