Great Plains' Spartan II revised for ryegrass

By: Andrew Hobbs

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Great Plains made a few changes to its Spartan II triple disc, no-till air drill range for the Australian market – and ryegrass was the reason behind one of them.

Great Plains' Spartan II revised for ryegrass
The 2020 NTA607-2 Spartan II


Following feedback from Australian buyers, Great Plains has revised the hydraulic circuit design and installed a new blockage monitor system on its Spartan II air drill range.

Available in six-metre and nine-metre versions, the Spartan II has been distributed locally by Great Plains’ parent company Kubota since 2018, with Great Plains Product Manager John Moloney saying the company had learned from its experience in Australia when redesigning the product.

"Great Plains always puts a lot of focus on whatever testing and feedback comes out of the Australian market, because any seeding and tillage manufacturer knows, if you want to test stuff, bring it here," he says.

"A very unique thing to the Australian market is the amount of ryegrass that gets drilled… it was certainly something Great Plains had to take some time to learn about, because they don’t do that amount of pasture seed in the US or any of their other markets."

Kubota made separate changes to the Spartan II in 2019 - check out the details here

While the Spartan II’s hardware was able to plant ryegrass – which has smaller and less dense seeds than cereal crops – the blockage monitors which kept track of how many seeds were planted sometimes struggled to detect them.

"So what we had to do was create a software update on the machine to capture more bytes of information from those blockage sensors and feed it into our system, to give it a whole new level of accuracy," Moloney says.

"The nice thing about the software update is we can roll it out to other Spartan II machines as well… you just plug a USB into the terminal and it will download the new software version and apply it onto the user terminal."

"The software will be rolled out towards the end of this year and is something that we want on all the machines come next autumn," he says.

A different software update also supports the use of prescription maps for variable rate application to ensure growers get the highest value from every seed.

Moloney says Great Plains also revised its hydraulic circuit design to improve the Spartan II’s active row-unit down pressure system, which recalibrates every time it is activated to ensure seeds are planted at the correct depth for best results.

"The main feedback that we had from customers was that the machine was slow to raise when you came to the end of a run and slow to go back down when you put it back into work," he says.

"We just want a machine that works the way they would like it to work, so we just made some updates to this system to solve that problem, so that is taken care of now."

Other improvements include upgrades to a more durable 18 PLY rear castor tyre and a redesigned row-unit mounting bracket which increases durability and reduces maintenance requirements.

The Spartan II is available with 15cm or 19cm row spacing and is  capable of alternate row seeding, individual row shut-off and individual row depth control, as well as double-shoot capability – which Great Plains says makes it one of the most versatile compact no-till air drills on the market.

Moloney says he is looking forward to what the 2021 planting season holds for the Spartan II with these new rework packages in place.

"When I am talking to customers or dealers the key thing about the machine is its versatility, and that is what you need in the Australian market when you are dealing with a lot of different seed types," he says.

"We have got a package on that machine that is tried and tested, reworked and we know the reliability is there with it." 

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