4 keys to successful canola seeding with a single disc drill
When it comes to canola, there are advantages and disadvantages to all types of equipment for seeding it. However, single disc drills can offer some unique benefits toward getting the crop established. Here are four keys to growing high-yielding canola, and how those using single disc drills can accomplish each one:
1. Seeding depth
Canola must be sown at a depth of 1/2” to 1” to allow for a high percentage of emergence. Too shallow or too deep leads to seedling mortality. And the seeds that do emerge tend to have a highly variable emergence date, which creates an uneven field. While air seeders typically aren’t known for their precise seeding depth, those equipped with hydraulic cylinders on each tool bar can allow operators to monitor and control the seeding depth on-the-go. This provides the precise down pressure needed to control the seed depth better than many traditional drills.
Single disc drills equipped with large packer tires provide another advantage. These packer tires perform multiple tasks by re-leveling the soil, closing the seed and fertilizer furrows, and maintaining depth. Furthermore, they give the openers stability and can provide consistent depth through a variety of soil conditions. On the other hand, traditional gauge wheels tend to move around a lot in working conditions, which isn’t ideal for seeding canola.
2. Fertilizer banding
Another key controllable factor in high canola yields is fertilizer banding. This is undeniably the main advantage to using an air drill over a planter. Planters simply lack the banding capabilities that a single disc drill can offer because they don’t have the needed tool bar strength. This means producers are forced to make a pre-plant or topdress application of nitrogen, which is a much less efficient method of supplying nitrogen, and could cost yield by not delivering nutrients to the roots at the ideal plant growth stages.
Many agronomists agree that an ideal spacing of nitrogen fertilizer is about three inches from each row and 1.5 inches below the seed, which can be achieved with mid-row banders on some single disc drills with 6-inch row spacing. Placing fertilizer any farther to the side of the seed may severely diminish the availability of the fertilizer when the plant needs it. Thanks to the precise accuracy of a single disc drill, one can be certain that the fertilizer is going to be exactly where it needs to be to feed the plants during the most critical growth stages without damaging seedlings.
3. Seed environment
Not only is the seed depth vital to the success of a canola crop, but the soil conditions also play a huge role. A firm, warm and moist seedbed is a necessity for proper emergence, which is why many northern growers use hoe drills for seeding canola. However, this ideal seedbed can also be achieved with the right single disc drill. Instead of simply cutting a slot in the ground, some units are designed to move more soil and effectively cover up the seed with black, clean soil — not just straw — to create a warm seedbed for fast, even emergence.
4. High speeds
Many times, seeding windows are cut short due to undesirable seeding conditions. When the window is open, producers must be as efficient with their time as possible. But when trying to run at higher speeds with most hoe drills, the rear openers can throw more soil over the front rows, burying those front rows. This can slow germination in the front rows, as well as cause uneven emergence from row to row. When windows are tight, a single disc drill can make a huge impact on the planting season with some operators averaging anywhere from 7-12 miles per hour (11.3-19.3 kph). In fact, a 60-foot single disc drill traveling at 9 miles per hour can seed over 30 acres in just 30 minutes.
When considering all of these factors, the benefits of seeding canola with a single disc drill are clear. The results are seen through excellent emergence and plant performance. In fact, operators with the right single disc drill may be able to lower seeding rates while achieving the same yield. With a seed as expensive as canola, the savings can add up fast.