Saskatchewan-based Vaderstad Industries, previously Seed Hawk, a business unit of Swedish farm equipment maker Väderstad, makes precision seed drills that deliver higher yields.
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Seed Hawk manufactures innovative drill systems that provide exceptionally precise seeding and fertilization placement. After partnering with the world leading Swedish farm equipment manufacturer for more than a decade, and after 25 years as a Canadian enterprise, this past October, Seed Hawk officially became Vaderstad Industries Inc., as part of global parent the Väderstad Group.
However, the time-tested and familiar Seed Hawk brand farmers rely on for fast, even crop emergence with higher yields isn’t going away. While the seeding systems and equipment now sport the red paint finish consistent with all Väderstad branded equipment, Seed Hawk continues as the nameplate customers have come to know and trust.
“We are pleased to become a part of Väderstad. Both businesses are leaders in the development of some of the world’s most innovative agricultural equipment,” says Nigel Jones, CEO of Vaderstad Industries Inc. “Joining with Väderstad provides us with synergies, both from a corporate perspective, such as the ability to integrate with their financial and management systems, as well as to expand our product line with Väderstad tillage, drilling and planting equipment, that we can now offer to our existing Seed Hawk customers.”
Seed Hawk products are sold through 19 dealerships representing 86 locations throughout Western Canada, the United States and Australia. There are currently more than 2200 machines working in the field., Seed Hawk manufactures a range of air carts for custom blending and precise seeding, as well as toolbars that follow the contour of the land for consistent seed depth regardless of terrain with industry-leading opener assemblies that operate independently, delivering superior shallow seeding, depth accuracy and optimal fertilizer placement with one pass operation. The Seed Hawk Seeding System include features like pioneering Sectional Control® Technology, Fenix III metering technology, and iCon® Wireless Control.
Väderstad products manufactured in Sweden, but offered through Vaderstad Industries throughout Western Canada and the United States include the Tempo Planter – which provides both speed and precision planting for all row crops, in comparison to competitive planters that offer either one or the other – and the Carrier – a disc cultivator that is fully customizable to the tillage needs of specific farm and field conditions.
Another benefit of the Väderstad relationship, Jones points out, is that the company is more customer-focused than ever. “While, like any successful company, we pay attention to customer needs, product development was more internally driven in the past,” Jones says. “Working with Väderstad, we’ve become much more concentrated on soliciting customer input. Before our R&D was all about coming up with what we’d thought was the next innovation; now we’re more about asking customers what we can do to make their products better.”
Chief among these is the use of software and modular components to not only provide innovation, but extend product usefulness. For example, Seed Hawk was the first manufacturer to introduce Sectional Control® Technology (SCT), which works in conjunction with a GPS system mounted on the toolbar to eliminate misses and overlaps commend when seeding among odd-shaped fields and ones with obstacles. When the toolbar encounters previously seeded ground, SCT instantly stops the roller rotation and product flow, which reduces input costs. SCT also lifts the openers, so you don’t disturb the precision seed and fertilizer placement already completed. A new electric drive meter makes SCT more efficient than ever.
“The key value for farmers is how to seed faster and more efficiently. Software is one way to continually upgrade without the expense of new hardware,” Jones explains. “Our iCon® Wireless Control System, for example, provides a simple and easy-to-use iPad interface that can tell you instantly how many acres remain until your next product fill. In-field calibration ensures you are applying products at the correct rates. And a blockage monitor tells you immediately of a problem. On top of that, you can get out of the cab and carry the iPad with you to help locate and fix the issue. All of this both improves operations and reduces costs. The farmer can conduct a seeding in one pass, saving time and fuel to do the necessary tillage while also ensuring the most effective seed placement that results in the best yields.”
And as improvements are made in the wireless control systems, an upgrade is only a download away. “Farmers are technologically-savvy; they’re always looking for how they can be more scientific and more efficient in their methodologies. These days, a lot of that smart innovation is driven by software, which is much easier and quicker to push out to customers,” Jones notes.
How long the hardware itself lasts in the field depends on how it is used. “The more acres that have to be covered, the harsher the terrain and the longer the machines run, the shorter the lifespan, “Jones notes. “It could be five or six years for aggressive situations. That said, many farmers have equipment much older and still in good working condition that’s doing the job for them. Farmers are mechanically adept and perform a lot of their own maintenance, and are particularly diligent about keeping equipment in top shape. It doesn’t pay to operate poorly operating equipment.”
Faster and Flexible
Vaderstad Industries maintains 22,000 square feet of research and testing facilities, as well as 75,000 square feet of manufacturing space, employing 150 in Langbank, Saskatchewan. Machines are built both for dealer inventories, as well as to custom orders. Jones notes that while they are looking into robotic welding, Seed Hawk equipment is basically an assembly-line process. “The labor market is a little tight, particularly for skills like welding, but we’ve been able to fill a number of new positions,” Jones says.
Jones is confident in continued business growth. “As part of the Väderstad Group, we can offer more products to our existing customers, as well as expand geographically. We’re particularly looking to establish dealer relationships further into eastern Canada. We consider ourselves the technology-leader, and with our established brand recognition we continue to provide innovations that help farmers work faster with increased flexibility.”