Liquid Systems News

New liquid ready cart saves time and money with easy Plug’n’Play and section control.

Western Australian grain grower Dan Critch has enjoyed improved seeding efficiency and nitrogen placement thanks to carefully considered machinery upgrades.

Dan and his father Tony, brother Tim, and their families grow wheat, lupins and canola near Mullewa in the north-east corner of the State’s grain growing region. The farm has been in the family for four generations.

With up to 17,600 hectares of crops going in each year, and limited labour, Dan said they aimed to upgrade to a seeding system that would help them get more done each day, with less wastage and labour units.

The answer was a John Deere C650 Liquid Ready tow-between air cart.

  • WHO: Dan Critch, his father Tony, brother Tim and families
  • WHERE: Wyalong Farm at Tenindewa, west of Mullewa, WA
  • CROP:17,600 hectares of wheat, lupins and canola
  • INPUTS: Flexi-N, Liquid Micronutrients and MAP
  • EQUIPMENT: 2 x John Deere C650 TBT Air Cart with the Liquid Systems (SA) – LQS120-C650TBT Module – 80’ Bourgault Bar mounted with Liquid Systems 8 Section Control “Stacker Kit”, 80 friction tube outlets.
  • Faster and more efficient sowing system, saving time and labour costs.
  • More even and constant stream of nutrients
  • Savings on seed and fertiliser of up to 5% thanks to section control
  • Plug’n’Play technology that worked straight out of the dealership

The C650 came with a dedicated 4,800L liquid centre tank with constant agitation and a dealer-fitted Liquid Systems (SA) LQS120 C650TBT pump and control system, adding a liquid 8 Section Control Stacker Kit, mounted on a new Bourgault 3335QDA Paralink bar.

The seeding system upgrade means Dan is working across 24 metres (or 80 rows) at a time, up from 15 metres (50 rows).

Reduced overlap

While this considerably improves the speed of seeding, it also increases the incidence of overlap, making section control important. “When we were looking for this new larger seeding system, we were adamant that it had to have section control for all inputs to minimise wastage,” Dan said.

Section control automatically switches off the seed, MAP and liquid nitrogen in areas that have already been seeded if they are encountered again, avoiding overlap.

Dan estimates that overlap could conservatively impact up to 5% of their seeding program, resulting in significant wastage of seed, fertiliser and liquid nitrogen, as well as potentially poorer growth. If there are lots of angles and obstacles in the paddock, this figure could be as high as 10%,” he explained.  

“We have seen the section control has worked because it comes up evenly across the paddock without the overlap.”

“It’s really detrimental to double up on the headlands. We see it a lot in years with a dry finish where the crops brown off on the doubled-up corners and overlaps.”  

The Critch’s have achieved further efficiency gains via fewer paddock operations, with micronutrients and fungicides applied at seeding rather than separate passes post-sowing.  

Their fertiliser program generally includes variable rates of between 50-80 kg of compound starter fertilizers; 50kg on the poor-performing and 80kg on the high-performing parts of paddocks, with the addition of 70L/ha of Flexi n or UAN.  

Liquid micronutrients including manganese and molybdenum and fungicides such as flutriafol, are also applied depending on soil and crop needs.  

“The new air cart and liquid system makes seeding a lot faster, which is helping us get crops in on time, and that’s probably the most important thing,” he said. “On a long day, we’d fill at least twice every day, about every five hours.” 

“It’s a lot more efficient than our other machines – we’d have to run around the clock to do the same area in roughly the same time, so it’s got that labour-saving side to it too.” 

So impressed with the benefits of the John Deere C650 Liquid Ready setup, the Critch’s purchased a second unit in 2023. They were drawn to its accuracy, ability to check flow rates and section control together with the ability to sow more country. 

Right time and place

Liquid nitrogen placement has also improved thanks to the upgrades. “Rather than just a dripping type system, we are now putting the Flexi N in a narrow stream down behind the longest point,” he said. 

Rather than just a dripping type system, we are now putting the Flexi N in a narrow stream down behind the longest point

Seed placement on these machines is slightly offset to the cultivation point where the liquid fertiliser goes, so it is banded about 12 cm under the seed and slightly offset which is really good for crop safety.” 

Dan points to trial data highlighting the benefits of early nitrogen applications. “The evidence is there that applying nitrogen close to the seed and in a safe form is where you get your biggest bang for your nitrogen dollar. I’m confident our yields have increased since using liquid fertilisers,” he said 

Switching to liquid fertilisers has taken the pressure off Dan, Tony, and Tim and given them time to regroup after sowing. “Once we have finished seeding, we now have about four weeks before we need to get our next nitrogen application ready to go again. It also gives a chance to look at how the season is shaping up. Even in an average year if we hadn’t put some nitrogen up front, we would already be behind the eight ball.” 


Dan said the liquid system integrated seamlessly with the John Deere screen, being ISOBUS compatible. He says it is one of the best things about the new seeding system.

“It’s all compatible, which is a really important thing these days,” he said.

“It’s a piece of cake to get going, the Liquid Systems are already fully integrated into the John Deere software. As soon as you plug in the screen it picks up that there is a liquid rate controller available and all the settings- all the calibrations and everything are there saved.” 

“Calibration is easy – the screen layout is farmer-friendly so you can readily do a flow rate test and check that the sections are working. We can also set parameters for alarms for low and high flows – so if anything is not quite right our operators are alerted quickly. “ 

For growers thinking of getting an upgrade, Dan recommended Liquid Systems (SA).

“Our dealership has fitted the Liquid Systems control systems to a number of other machines in the district successfully – they’ve got a good reputation for simplicity and complementing a range of seeding systems,” he said.

If you would like more specific information regarding the LQS120 C650 Module  CLICK HERE

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