With the recent rise in popularity of the various conservation schools of thought regarding crop establishment and plant care, the recent Groundswell event in Hertfordshire provided growers with the opportunity to see the latest developments in action, with particular emphasis on no-till drilling. Alex Heath reports on the highlights from the event.
Getting its first public outing was the Exitium from Irish firm Alstrong. Latin for destruction this new front mounted cover crop crimper is the firm’s first foray into the arable world, having previously made a name for itself in grassland rejuvenation.
Based on similar principals to its aerating rollers, the machine features a three metre wide 14mm thick barrel with sets of 150mm long, 75mm tall blades staggered around its circumference. Weighing in at a tonne, with the option to further ballast with another 700kg of water, a ribbed roller proceeds this, pushing the cover crop down. The crop is then crimped by the following roller, leaving a thick mat through which the sown crop can grow through. Prices are yet to be confirmed.
One of the newest drills on show was Kuhn’s latest no-till drill. Although able to work into most firm seed beds, the drill working the demo plots was specced to the brim in no-till tech.
Essentially split into five independent sections, it is one of the only machines on the market to offer an integrated cover crop crimper, the first of the independent elements. Following is the opening discs, which for no-till are a 430mm diameter embossed disc.
Staggered packer wheels follow, providing consolidation for the seeding units. At the rear of the drill on a resistance pivot is the seeding unit. Featuring double seeding discs, it is designed to exactly follow the opening discs. A slanted press wheel runs slightly offset to crumble soil on top of the seed.
The RC model means the 5,000l tank is split 50:50, with umpteen different seed and fertiliser placement combinations possible. Power for the six metre machine is rated at 180hp.
Launched in its current format at Lamma earlier this year the latest GD drill for Worcestershire firm Weaving is the only drill on the market that cuts the seed slot at an angle. The major difference to preceding models is the fact the seeding units are now placed under the tank, rather than at the rear.
Slicing the ground at 25 degrees to the surface the double discs place the seed on a ledge, before airless or pneumatic tyres press the flap down. Up to 325kg of pressure can be applied to each coulter. Providing the flap is pressed down properly the seeds germinate straight up.
The drill runs an Accord style metering unit, but is 25 per cent larger, allowing for faster forward speeds and greater seed rates. Up to five hoppers and metering units can be added. The 4.8m machine on show weighs in at 8.3t, and was pulled with 160hp.
Showing no-till drilling is not just for the biggest farms, Dale Drills was working with its mounted three metre tine drill. Featuring a modified system to tackle cover crop residues, half of the machines tines had been removed, to afford room for a disc.
The disc not only cuts through the trash, but scores the ground ahead of the low disturbance legs. These 12.5mm legs can work down to 50mm. The idea behind the tine is that the draught requirement is low, and the tine cleans the seeding slot, eliminating hair pinning.
It is also said to operate better than disc drills in wetter conditions, and can generate a small amount of tilth within the slot, with out disrupting the surface. A 2,000l tank is mounted on the fronk links, and is said to be ideally suited to four cylinder tractors.
Blurring the lines between being a disc or tine drill is Primewest’s New Zealand inspired CrossSlot drill.
Using a disc to cut through the trash and ground to seeding depth, a winged side blade essentially brushing the side of the disc then creates a shelf for the seed to be deposited onto. A second blade on the other side of the disc can be added for fertiliser or companion crop placement.
The company says 8-10hp per opener is needed for the single blade setup, or 12-15hp for the twin blade. The four metre model at the event weighed in at eight tonnes, with up to 400kg able to be put through each coulter. A liquid fertiliser tank is also now available. Three-point linkage mounted, it holds 1,000l, with the drill then coupling up to this.
The Spanish made Virkar Dynamic is a new face for no-till drilling enthusiasts in the UK. Imported by Samagri, the six metre machine on show had a 5,300l seed capacity.
The seeding unit relies on a wavy disc to cut trash and generate a small amount of friable soil in the slot. A 10mm wide seeding tine follows, cleaning the slot and running 20mm deeper than the seed. The company says the setup ensures even seed placement, as the disc will ride over stones, whereas the tungsten tine will move them.
Row spacings can be 19 or 25cm, with each seeding assembly having 35cm of vertical travel. Accord type metering systems, Muller seed computer and rear steering axle are all used.
For clearing larges area of stubbles or cover crops, the toppers from Canadian firm Schulte could fit the bill. Already employed at several airports around the UK, the company says it is seeing greater demand from farms who require wider working widths. Shown was a nine metre machine, but the company also makes one that can clear nearly 13m per pass.
The nine metre machine is said to require 200hp for the start up with the blade inertia then taking over. Each rotor has two arms, which each have two blades, one on top of another. A counter blade is mounted on the side of the deck, helping to achieve a 50-75mm chop length.
Price for the machine on show is around £50,000.
French firm Novag was showing a four metre drill, featuring its hybrid opener. A 575mm diameter disc is used to cut a slot before its blades either side of the disc cut slots for the seed and fertiliser to be place into.
Up top the hopper is split 2,200l for seed and 2,000l for fertiliser. Empty the machine weighs 7.5t, with up to 500kg of pressure put through each coulter. Accord metering units are used. The drill also features a cooler for the hydraulic oil.
This particular model requires 200hp, and cost around £120,000. The company also makes a nine metre giant, weighing in at 20t empty, it sits on 750mm wide track units.