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Putting seed in the slot

The first commercial Cross Slot no-till air seeder made its debut in North Dakota this spring.

At a field day in May, H. Kevin Larson, Willow City, N.D., demonstrated the rig’s capabilities for about 90 farmers. He ran the 45-foot seeder through cornstalks, pasture sod and barley stubble without stopping to make down-pressure or depth control adjustments. Load sensors and hydraulic cylinders on each opener control the depth automatically.

Invented in New Zealand more than 30 years ago, the Cross Slot seeder has been used widely in several foreign countries for years. There are also Cross Slot seeders being used in the Pacific Northwest. Research models have been tested in North Dakota.

Key Points

The Cross Slot is an air seeder that was invented in New Zealand.

The opener creates an inverted, T-shaped slot for the seed.

Seed is zipped in on one side of the slot, fertilizer on the other.


The Cross Slot’s claim to fame is that it can go through large amounts of residue while disturbing very little soil. The unique opener creates an inverted, T-shaped seed slot in the soil and tucks seed and fertilizer in the slots on either side of a single disk.

The seed and fertilizer end up being about 1½ inches apart from each other. Closing wheels fold the flaps above each slot back into place.

“It works like a zipper, literary a zipper,” says Gavin Porter, Cross Slot’s U.S. director, who was on hand for the demo at Larson’s farm.

Placing the seed in the slot, directly underneath a flap of undistributed soil, puts the seed in a zone of increased humidity. The zone doesn’t dry out like a conventional seed slot can. As a result, Cross Slot users see significant increases in germination and emergence uniformity, especially in dry soil conditions.

Larson isn’t as concerned about emergence, given the wet soil conditions, as he is about getting through residue. The Cross Slot seeder is supposed to shine there, too. It uses a notched disk that cuts through residue instead of hair-pinning and pushing it. Larson also likes the idea of having a seeder that can handle a wide range of soil types and conditions.

Larson plans to convert some Conservation Reserve Program acres this year with the Cross Slot. He’ll simply burn down the weeds and direct-seed field peas into the sod.

“We’ll see how it turns out,” he says.

Cross Slot has partnered with Gates Manufacturing Inc., Landsford, N.D., to build the toolbars for the Cross Slot seeder. The 45-foot Cross Slot that Larson bought cost approximately $280,000. He’s going to be a dealer for the company in the Dakotas.

For more information, visit www.crossslot.com, or call Larson at 701-871-1398.

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down and dirty: Farmers check out the unique T-shaped seed slot created by the Cross Slot no-till seeder.

06111241D.tif

cutter: H. Kevin Larson points out the notched disk on the Cross Slot no-till seeder is designed to cut through heavy residue.

This article published in the June, 2011 edition of DAKOTA FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.