Monsanto, one of the leading seed maize producers worldwide, have acquired two of the most technologically advanced precision maize planters which are quite unique to South Africa, to plant their seed maize more efficiently, accurately and cost effectively.
The investment of 11 million consists of two Monosem 17-row and two 3-row vacuum planters as well as two Case NX290 tractors.
With this new technology, the male and female seed can be planted with the same planter at the same time. These planters plant every pip without any skips or doubles.
Previously two different planters had to be used to plant rows of female and male seed which is needed for cross pollinisation. The female seeds were planted first followed by another planter which planted the male seed in spaces which were left open.
“With this new technology, which is a first of its kind in seed production, we mounted 17 single row units on one toolbar which can all be individually controlled and monitored from within the cab of the tractor. Male seed can now be planted at the same time in between the female rows without needing to leave gaps. This now gives a female coverage of 100% where we could traditionally only get an 83% female coverage. This method is a lot more cost effective to produce higher volumes of seed in less time and to gain higher yields to satisfy the continuous local and international demand of our seed” says Lukie van der Merwe –Field Equipment Manager for Monsanto.
These planters have no chains or belts to drive the different operations. All drives are run by hydraulic motors which is controlled from a screen in the tractor. The seed population can be adjusted during operation ranging from 15000 to 115000 plants per ha. The row-spacing of the female plants are set at 76cm and so far an average of 40 ha of planting per day has been achieved. On a good day up to 70 or 80 ha can be planted.
To create more pollen, the two 3-row planters are used to plant extra male seed about 5 days after the initial planting.
All the tractor drivers have been well trained by Monsanto to interpret the highly advanced precision monitor that control the application of seed, fertiliser and pesticide and also monitors the seed population from the cab.
Using a GPS co-ordinate system the tractors keep all the rows in a straight line. Before planting the centre of the field the GPS system sets the outside boundary of the field and then planter units are programmed to stop one by one at this boundary, not to waste any seed.