The new generation of Samco planters is helping to solve today’s sustainability challenges.
With over 1,200 Samco planters already working throughout the world, this Limerick-based company is no stranger to working on a global market. Samco designs and manufactures bespoke agricultural equipment and degradable films globally in the agriculture and food sectors.
Many crops are now grown using Samco equipment around the world, such as maize silage, maize grain, sunflowers, sorghum, soya, beet, rice and many types of vegetables. The company often produces bespoke machinery suited to individual crop types, and this has given them the design flexibility to produce machines suited to specific needs and conditions. This global presence has developed considerably over the past 20 years.
In 2003, it first exported to Canada and in 2005, it broke into the French market. From 2006 to 2009, it entered Belgium, Holland, Germany and Japan.
Today, 84% of what it builds is destined for export to approximately 23 markets worldwide. The UK and France are its main markets as they account for approximately 20% each. It is this business model and passion for innovation which led to the creation of its latest planter, the Generation 3 Samco system.
The planters are based on machines designed for international markets such as Canada but are quickly gaining attention in Europe due to an increasing emphasis on improving sustainability in agriculture. The Generation 3 system lays a single row of plastic instead of a conventional
double row, which results in a 30% reduction in film use per acre. It is this Generation 3 planter that earned Samco the Engineering Award at this year’s Innovation Arena.
The concept for this planter wasn’t new as the company had already developed a machine to apply mulch film on single rows for the Canadian market, which would be suitable for use in min-till situations. This planter brought two distinct advantages: Firstly, the single-row system reduced the overall amount of mulch film needed per unit area. Secondly, it was much less prone to blow off, as the mulch film did not provide the sail effect for the wind to catch.
Looking forward, min-till, low soil disturbance cultivation and sustainable use of materials will be to the forefront of a more sustainable agricultural industry in Europe. This direction of travel gave way to the new Generation 3 planter, specifically designed for single-row planting.
Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Robert Shine, Samco managing director, said the average plastic ground cover in a field of double row maize is 66%. This is compared to 30% using the single-row system. This means fields of plastic-covered maize would be far less visible than heretofore.
The Generation 3 machines leave about 26cm of exposed plastic per row at 75cm spacings compared to 1m in double-row systems.
They also use less plastic per metre length and this results in a saving in overall plastic use. Robert says this saving in plastic would offset the additional cost of alternative mulch films, if necessary, and help the viability of the system.
Conventional double-row plastic came in 1.4m rolls and this left 1m of plastic exposed to sunlight.
With less than half the working width per row, these new rolls have 6,200m per roll compared with 3,100m in the double-row rolls. This means double the distance covered per roll and double the area that can be sown between roll replacements, thus increasing work rates.
A concern with moving to a single-row plastic system is the impact of about a 50% reduction in plastic cover and its ability to heat the ground and bring the same yield and maturity benefits.
This was also a concern for the Samco team but evaluation over the past three years has shown similar field performance from the single versus double-row systems.