January 26, 2017 Philip Korczak
The Fenix III is big, but this is Biggar!
If you drive an hour west of Saskatoon on Hwy. 14, you will come across the lovely town of Biggar, SK. Biggar is known for two things – being the home town of Olympic gold medalist and three-time world women’s curling champion Sandra Schmirler, and the “Hanson Buck” (world record white-tailed deer for the largest antlers). However, what I had come to Biggar for was the in-field testing of the Fenix III Meter on Marvin Redlick’s Seed Hawk.
During the first week of September, myself and two other Seed Hawk Product Managers descended upon Marvin Redlick’s yard to retrofit the Fenix III metering system onto his existing 2016 Seed Hawk seeder. Marvin has an 80 ft toolbar with a 660 bu TBT iCon cart. Testing in a lab and/ or controlled conditions by Engineers and/ or R&D guys needs to happen, but real-world, in-field testing by the operators/ farmers who run the equipment in the fields in the spring cannot be given enough priority. Luckily, Marvin was gracious enough to allow us to do this testing on his equipment.
After two full days, the three of us had the seeding unit upgraded and ready to run. Unfortunately, the weather in Saskatchewan, as most know from this past fall, was anything but ideal and we didn’t get a chance to try the Fenix III system for the first time until 2 weeks later.
Our first go was seeding winter wheat at 100 lbs/ac while putting down Phosphorus at 90 lbs and Urea at 175 lbs. We were going to be seeding into canola stubble using the new High Displacement (400 cc) rollers targeting a ground speed of 5 mph. Anxiety was high the first day as none of the four of us on-site had seen the Fenix III on an actual Seed Hawk tank in a field and the memories of this past spring were still vividly fresh in our minds. Was the Fenix III actually going to solve the metering issues we had from this past spring? Would the meters not jam? Would the new higher watt motors max out on amperage? We all had these questions running through our heads although no one dared say anything as to not jinx ourselves as we loaded the tanks with seed and fertilizer.
Finally, after all the anticipation of the past months, it was time to seed the headlands. I was in the cab the first time the shanks were dropped- 50 meters…, 100 meters…, 1000 meters…- still no codes nor alarms. We were not willing to breathe a sigh of relief just yet, but things seemed to be working well. As the first headland was completed, and then the second, and then finally as the tank ran out of seed, we were all able to finally exhale and realized that we did, in fact, have a winner on our hands in the form of the new Fenix III Metering system.
Over the course of the next few weeks, on and off, we proceeded to seed approximately 450 acres of winter wheat and another 1000 acres of fall banded urea for Marvin. He had plans to have us seed more acres of winter wheat but the weather was not going to allow that to happen.We were also fortunate to have a number of interested growers stop by to see how the Fenix III performed. The response was overwhelmingly positive. The Fenix III motors and meters worked flawlessly and the tractor driver only got out of the cab to fill the tanks back up or to tend to Mother Nature’s call.
A “Biggar” thank you to Marvin for his hospitality while we were at his farm and for allowing us to use his equipment for this testing.