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Seed drill depth control system for precision seeding

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An adequate and uniform seeding depth is crucial for the homogeneous development of a crop, as it affects time
of emergence and germination rate. The considerable depth variations observed during seeding operations - even
for modern seed drills - are mainly caused by variability in soil resistance acting on the drill coulters, which
generates unwanted vibrations and, consequently, a non-uniform seed placement. Therefore, a proof-of-concept
dynamic coulter depth control system for a low-cost seed drill was developed and studied in a field experiment.
The performance of the active control system was evaluated for the working speeds of 4, 8 and 12 km h−1, by
testing uniformity and accuracy of the coulter depth in relation to the target depth of −30 mm. The evaluation
was based on coulter depth measurements, obtained by coulter position sensors combined with ultrasonic soil
surface sensors. Mean coulter depth offsets of 3.5, 5.3 and 6.3mm to the target were registered for the depth
control system, compared to 8.0, 9.1 and 11.0mm without the control system for 4, 8 and 12 km h−1, respectively.
However, speed did not affect the coulter depth significantly. The control system optimised coulter depth
accuracy by 15.2% and at 95% confidence interval it corresponded to an absolute reduction in the coulter depth
confidence span of 10.4 mm. The spatial variability, due to variation in soil mechanical properties was found to
be±8 mm, across the blocks for the standard drill and when activating the coulter depth control system this
variability was reduced to±2 mm. The system with the active control system operated more accurately at an
operational speed of 12 km h−1 than at 4 km h−1 without the activated control system.
Original languageEnglish
JournalComputers and Electronics in Agriculture
Pages (from-to)174-180
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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