Bar upgrade opens sowing window, boosts crops at Babakin

25 February 2021

Seeding driver Kevin Turner, Western Australian grower Rohan Crombie, Babakin, and Duncan Murdoch, McIntosh Distribution, with the Crombie’s 12-metre Morris Quantum air drill and 7252 tow-behind air cart.

DESPITE having a turn of the century air seeder, a strong focus on accurate seed placement meant the Crombie family at Babakin in Western Australia recently decided it was their much younger seeding bar that needed upgrading, and which also has allowed earlier sowing and improved crop establishment.

Rohan Crombie, together with his wife, Sharon, and parents, Will and Lorraine, farms about 3600 hectares including leased land between Corrigin and Bruce Rock. Rohan and Sharon have four children, Tamsyn (17), Caris (15), Kayla (13) and Declan (11).

They crop about 2300ha to wheat, barley, canola, lupins and oats for hay, as well as serradella and clover pastures, which help support a Merino flock comprising 2500 grown sheep, 30 per cent of which are mated to Suffolk sires for prime lamb production.

Some of the land is double cropped and other areas follow a year-in/year-out rotation. A wheat-barley-pasture program is used on heavy to medium country at the home property, ‘Windsor Downs’, with lupins and canola included on the medium to light leased land.

The Crombies have been long-time fans of Morris seeding gear, running a 7252 tow-behind air cart from the late 1990s, coupled to a more than decade old, 12-metre 9000 seeding bar.

The turn of the century Morris 7252 air cart looked ready for the track after all its metering units and pipes were replaced with new stainless-steel items.

The air cart recently enjoyed a major update, with all the metering units and pipes replaced with new stainless-steel items.

“We can plant canola and serradella and get down to 2-3 kilograms accurately with the Morris box. It is metering well, so we wanted to get the bar and seed placement right,’’ Rohan said.

“We were looking to go to a hydraulic tine and then when we saw the Quantum bar, we loved the flotation, with the wheels on the outside of the frame. It’s a much better set-up.’’

He said the frame was well designed and had shown a solid performance with the heavy country.

The 12m Quantum air drill is set on 25-centimetre (10-inch) tine spacings and uses a Primary Sales boot with Groundhog point and a dual shoot system for deep banding urea.

“A 9420 John Deere pulls it and when we are digging at depth – 4 inches plus – in heavy clay, it knows it’s alive,’’ Rohan said.

“Last year we put over 2000ha in dry. We’ve been ripping into stuff that hasn’t been worked and it’s gone well.

“Where we couldn’t get in with the old bars until it rained, we are now quite comfortable to start and go. It has given us the flexibility to seed whatever paddock when we want to – and the ability to go dry and utilise rainfall. It showed good stubble handling ability as well.

“On the old bar, the tines with 400-pound breakout would ride back in the heavier clays and tighter gravels and throw the seed placement out. We were only doing 70-80pc of the job in the paddock before.’’

He said the option of Morris Auto-Pack for correctly closed and packed furrows, as well as Auto-Lift for automatic lifting and lowering of tines at the end of run lines, using the Topcon X25 controller linked with their John Deere guidance, was brilliant.

“You can set the outside boundaries and it will lift itself, and, being mixed country, you can see the bar adjust itself with the packing.’’

“We are interested in exploring the packing pressure. In heavier clays, you can get good seed-to-soil contact – and then with the medium country.

“It’s a learning game on how much you should pack. We are working with 40-80kg of packing pressure and will look to work out what’s best. We hope to gain some yield if we do it right.’’


Rohan said they were very happy with the seed placement and following crop germination and establishment last year.


“We really think it’s helping on some of the heavier country, where we haven’t been getting into it.’’


“Other people are probably finding too with hydraulic tines: To start when you want, put the seed where you want, with the packing to have a good seedbed with no air around the seed – it’s helping.


“We had 136 millimetres (of rainfall) for the growing season and were really happy with the yields. Our wheat yields were on the average, barley and lupins were above average and canola was similar.’’


He said support from McIntosh Distribution and the company’s Duncan Murdoch around the set-up of their Quantum air drill was “second to none’’.


“Duncan knows tillage and the set-up to suit our country and the back-up was tremendous. We’ve never had a person so thorough. We can’t say enough about him.’’


“He did a lot with the upright air kits to have them set up on our bar and, in the end, it was one of the biggest things with the sale.’’


The upright air kits are an Australian-designed and made product delivery system available with the latest Morris drills, allowing easier configuration with bars.


The high-end kits comprise extensive use of stainless-steel, allowing the lowest levels of friction and, thereby, significantly reducing the energy requirement to move product through the system. Using stainless-steel also improves resistance to wear and corrosion.


Rohan said McIntosh & Son also introduced a ‘Service Support Line’ last season, allowing customers to call, text or message via an App at any time for machine assistance.


He said having an experienced technician on call was a big help through the season.

“They would help us through any questions and that was quite good. We also had a few of the guys come and sit on the tractor,’’ he said.