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New Seed Size Boosts Yields, Says Inventor
A new electrostatic seed sizer that uses up to 120,000 volts to divide seed into groups by size is attracting a lot of attention to retired electrical engineer Richard Helmuth, of Carmel. Ind., the inventor.
Helmuth's sizer can size anything from tiny grass seed to corn. Although seed sizing is standard practice in commercial corn seed, it's not commonly done for soybeans and other crops. Helmuth thinks it should be.
"Our tests show tremendous differences in yields between big and small seeds. In Kansas, we have found that big wheat seed out-yields certified seed of mixed sizes by 10 to 20%. We have obtained similar results in soybeans," Helmuth told FARM SHOW. "Seed companies do not want to size seed because they want to sell all their seed to farmers, but our research indicates that only big seed should be used for planting.
Large seeded plants have more vigor and larger root systems, says Helmuth, so you should be able to plant less seed and yet obtain similar results. He has also found that large seed tends to produce large seed.
Although tests are continuing on big seed versus small seed, Helmuth's "seed sizer'' is already on the market. Several universities have bought machines and there has been interest from seed companies and from farmers who want to size their own seed.
Here's how the sizer works:
Seed drops through an electrically charged zone that zaps seed with a 30,000 to 120,000 volts negative charge. A large, positively charged ground plate at one side of the electrostatic zone exerts a pull on the negative charged seed. Depending on how heavy the seed is, it is pulled toward the plate. When it reaches the bottom of the zone, seed falls into compartments. The smallest seed falls closest to the ground plate and the largest seed the farthest away.
Helmuth notes that although seeds are charged with high voltage, the current generated is so small there is no danger to the operator. "A shock from it would feel like the jab of a needle," he says.
Moisture content of the seed does not affect the sizer's efficiency since it acts only on the surface of the seed. However, the sizer does detect the mass of the seed, and several seed companies are interested in the machine to divide same-size seeds by weight to detect any differences in plant viability.
The system is designed to operate on 110-V single phase power. It is totally adjustable to size of the seed being sized. The standard model sizes at the rate of 100 bu. per hour and sells for $10,000. The unit measures 5 ft. long, 5 ft. high and width is variable. Helmuth also builds sizers with a capacity of up to 500 lbs.
If you want to run your own experimental plot, Helmuth will size a sample of seed for you if you pay the postage. He can also provide research results on small versus big seeds.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Richard E. Helmuth, Helmuth Corporation, 828 East 116th St., Carmel, Ind. 46032 (ph 317 846-2634).

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1983 - Volume #7, Issue #2