PRACTICAL farmers need practical tools and a Western Australian farmer plans to deliver.
Farming about 11,000 hectares, Western Australian growers Mic and Marnie Fels have a vested interest in ensuring profitable farming technologies hit the ground.
Their company, iPaddock, initially founded to develop apps and tools for farming, is set to unveil a new disc designed for zero tillage seeding at the Wimmera Machinery Field Days in Victoria.
iPaddock, founder and mechanical engineer, Mic Fells said his interest in single disc seeders began out of wanting to sow in a wider range of conditions with narrow-row spacings to help control weeds.
In a zero-tillage, control traffic farming system, Mr Fells said it was important to have equipment that enabled the use of pre-emergent herbicides while maintaing stubble.
"We bought a 12 metre single disc seeder in 2011 to get back to narrow row spacing,” he said.
“The narrow spacing’s were awesome but the maintenance was ridiculous.”
Mr Fels said he had not been happy with the discs currently on the market for a variety of reasons, including soil build up and herbicide concentration toxicity.
"I could see that discs were the answer for our system, but just not the ones that you could buy,” he said.
“We needed the productivity of discs, but the reliability of tines.
“That was how the Alpha disc began."
Mr Fels said the iPaddock Alpha disc was a robust, low maintenance single disc seeding unit, that used a rippled disc in combination with a load bearing press wheel to place seeds under a firm, well shaped, furrow.
He said sowing with discs was twice as fast as using tines, which on his farm meant he could sow a 6,300 Ha program with a single 18 metre machine.
“There are huge savings, both in dollars and in stress,” he said.
“Having one less tractor, seeding rig and two less staff during the seeding operation.
“Because we sow with discs we also need one less header because we can cut high to get full capacity out of our machines.”
Mr Fels said while the iPaddock suite of products was well known in his home state, he was concentrating on expanding his market in eastern states by attending the Wimmera Field Days.
"What we have learned is that with the right tools, farming can not only be more profitable, but simpler at the same time,” he said.
“My ambition is to play a part in developing tools to make that happen not just on our farms, but on other farms as well.”
Mr Fels said iPaddock the Alpha disc was not the companies first foray into machinery, having released the Turbodrum feed drum for header fronts last year.
“iPaddock Apps, the Alpha Disc and the Turbodrum have all been built, tried and tested in the real world, by real farmers,” he said.