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Clean Seed to roll out lighter seeding unit with singulation capability

By: Realag Machinery Insider

February 20, 2020

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Clean Seed is rolling out a lighter, updated version of its Smart Seeder this spring after having formed a joint venture with a North Dakota-based ag equipment manufacturer.

The Canadian company behind the CX-6 Smart Seeder (pictured above) has partnered with Norwood Sales, known for its Kwik Till products, to manufacture the new Smart Seeder Max and Smart Seeder Max S.

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The new design is, in part, a response to farmer feedback about the width and weight of the CX-6 seeding unit’s frame, explains Colin Rush, Clean Seed’s chief operating officer, speaking with RealAg’s Shaun Haney in the interview below.

“We’ve probably shaved off 40 to 50 percent of the weight, and we’ve got a little bit different configuration. We’ve been able to shorten our width down by approximately 10 feet in transport, so it’s a considerable evolution on the frame design,” he says.

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The CX-6 was known for its innovation in independently metering up to six products right above the row opener, allowing for high resolution placement of seed and fertilizer in each row as the unit traveled through the field.

Rush says about 18 months ago they decided to look for potential partners to work with to address concerns about soil compaction and transport width while utilizing the CX-6’s metering and row opener technology. The company originally struck a deal with Iowa-based planter equipment manufacturer Harvest International, and debuted a Clean Seed Smart Planter with Harvest at the Ag in Motion farm show in 2018. Ultimately, the deal wasn’t feasible and Clean Seed had to back away from the arrangement with Harvest, says Rush.

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That led them to Norwood Sales at Fargo, North Dakota, which was already building a front-folding Yieldtrac frame, in addition to its Kwik Till lineup. Rush says they spent the last six to seven months integrating Clean Seed’s technology with Norwood’s frame design, leading to a joint venture agreement between the two companies being finalized last week.

Listen to Colin Rush discuss the new Smart Seeder design, the partnership with Norwood, and plans for bringing the Max to market:

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The arrangement will see Clean Seed license its Smart Seeder technologies to the joint venture, while Norwood will build the machines and contribute its front-folding frame rights, cart, hydraulics and other technologies.

As for the new seeding unit design, it will be available in two models — the Smart Seeder Max and the Smart Seeder Max S. The Max will feature a similar metering system as the CX-6 on the lighter front-folding frame, while the Max S includes new vacuum-based singulation capability.

“It will singulate products such as canola, peas, corn, soybeans, hemp, and it is an addition on (to the existing metering system),” Rush says, noting they’ve also added planter control functions, including downforce and singulation control, as well as new cloud-based software for collecting and processing field data.

To start, the new Max models will be available in a 60′ width on 12″ row spacing. Rush says he expects a 40′ unit will also be available soon.

The opener design will also be evolving “from the traditional Smart Seeder opener into an opener that’s more accepted on the planter side, because we do have the controls, we have singulation now, so now we’re going to be adapting to the planter market in those widths,” he says.

“It’s really in new class. It’s not a planter. It’s not an air seeder. It’s not a double-disc drill. It’s really what I consider the first true hybrid, which is one pass singulation and nutrient placement in a no-till setting,” says Rush.

The more compact frame design will also be easier to ship overseas than the original CX-6, says Rush, potentially opening up markets in Australia and South America. Rocky  Mountain Equipment continues to have distribution rights in Western Canada.

Rush says they plan to roll out the first new units this spring, with demonstrations planned for later in the planting season.