New technologies could lead to yield increases and efficiencies on the farm.
If there’s one thing we can count on in agriculture, it’s innovation. Farmers have had to be innovative over the millennia to keep one step ahead of the challenges that face them every season. Today, farmers and their support industries continue that proud tradition of confronting problems head-on and finding solutions.
Clean Seed Capital Group
Vice-president of agronomic practices and protocols and director of Clean Seed Capital Group, Colin Rosengren is also a fourth-generation farmer from Midale, Sask. He farms about 5,000 acres with his wife Leigh and three young children.
“We identified a need for something different when it came to seeding,” Rosengren says. “Air seeders are not capable of delivering the solutions variable-rate technologies were providing. We needed to rethink seeding and how we could meter multiple inputs in a way that air seeders could not support.”
Donald Marvin, Inocucor Technologies president, CEO and director, discusses future biologicals.
Clean Seed has developed an innovative solution to those challenges, building a seeder that has resulted in several individually patented and patent-pending technologies. The CX-6 SMART Seeder is a next-generation innovation that in some ways harkens back to old world disc drills.
One of the biggest differences with this new design compared to current air seeders are individually metered openers at every row, capable of delivering up to six products in three shoots at any given time.
“Each opener assembly runs as its own drill — each with a series of DC stepper motors, which are specifically designed to convert input pulses into precisely defined incremental steps on the metering shaft,” Rosengren explains. “There is zero overlap, full turn compensation and flawless integration with soil maps into our SeedSync wireless management system. Farmers can now expect very high definition, real time variable-rate management ability with our electronic metering systems.”
Whether a farmer uses flat rates or takes advantage of modern agronomy practices using soil mapping, the advantages of the CX-6 SMART Seeder are immediate. Not only can the CX-6 SMART Seeder deliver variable-rate fertilizer solutions, it can also vary seeding rate to match plant populations to topography. This is useful in an intercropping situation where different parts of the field are suited to one crop versus another.
“We intercrop peas, lentils and camelina,” Rosengren explains. “Lentils don’t like wet feet so we don’t seed them in the low spots, but peas like more moisture. The camelina is seeded at a constant rate throughout the field.”
Savings are evident in the trials conducted on Rosengren’s farm in 2014.
“Just eliminating overlap is an instant 12 per cent savings to the bottom line,” he says. “We also expect yield advantages as we improve our ability to manage inputs with better application of variable-rate technologies and there are the logistics benefits that are harder to quantify but mean a lot when you have thousands of acres to seed.”
The only way to manage fertilizer applications better on the farm is to split the products apart but the problem with that is managing all those individual products.
“We’ve designed a low-cost shuttle cart system with six tanks that refills the CX-6 SMART Seeder on the fly,” explains Rosengren. “It can be dropped once the SMART Seeder is refilled and taken away to be restocked, either at the yard or your local fertilizer dealer.”
Full commercial release of the CX-6 SMART Seeder and its SeedSync wireless management systems will be for spring 2015 and Rosengren will be using it on his farm.
Inocucor Technologies Inc.
The Canadian ag biotech company, Inocucor Technologies, was founded by two Canadian scientists — Margaret Bywater-Ekegard and Ananda Lynn Fitzsimmons.
Bywater-Ekegard and Fitzsimmons have combined their expertise to provide farmers with a completely unique approach to increasing yields, soil and plant health. Natural fermentation has been a staple of human food preservation and alcohol creation for generations.
Inocucor Technologies has developed a proprietary fermentation process from which their first commercial product, Garden Solution, a patented blend of yeasts and bacteria, is derived.
What is unique and particularly innovative about the Inocucor Technologies’ approach is their use of multi-species formulations of naturally occurring microbes versus the common single species approach.
“These microbial consortia are the next generation bio-stimulants, bio-fertilizers and bio-protection products for crops,” says Donald Marvin, president, chief executive officer and director of Inocucor Technologies. “We are already marketing our first-generation live-culture products to early adopters in Ontario, Quebec, and 20 U.S. states.”
Garden Solution interacts with the phyto-microbiome — the plant-soil environment — to improve both plant and soil quality, promoting plant growth, increasing biomass and bringing on maturity earlier. It is applied as a tank-mix with fertilizers and other nutrients, or as a seed treatment or soil drench. It is registered for organic production by the Organic Materials Review Institute and United States Department of Agriculture.
“The live culture products are our first-generation products,” says Marvin. “Second-generation products, IN-M2, are under development and will be microbial cell-free and function in bio-stimulation and disease management in large scale agriculture. We have formed a commercial, strategic partnership with Axter Agroscience to bring IN-M2 products to market.”
Field trials conducted by Inocucor Technologies and Axter Agroscience in corn and soybeans show yield increases in excess of 10 to 15 per cent.
A third-generation of cell-free products, IN-M3, will provide bio-protection and will be available for licensing to major players in the crop protection space.