With a catchy harvest underway, getting a wet day can prove the ideal time to go through kit ready for drilling.
Alex Heath gets some advice on what to go through on the farm’s trusty combination drill...
The combination drill has been a firm favourite on British farms for decades, due to its versatility and ability to get seed in the ground in less than ideal conditions.
Being the most important part of the crop establishment process, ensuring the seed drill is in good condition ahead of the planting campaign is vital.
Steve Jordan, drill technician at dealership Morris Corfield, showed us around a well-used four-metre Lemken Zirkon and Solitair 9 setup.
WITH the drill piggybacked on the power harrow, the first area to look at is the disc coulters.
Mr Jordan says these must be just touching at the front to prevent soil blocking them. Shims can be added to achieve this.
He also advises changing the discs once a 25mm gap appears between the plastic of the seed chute and the top of the disc.
Discs should be free to revolve. If not, the bearing needs changing – a simple one-bolt job on newer drills, but six bolts on older models.
The press wheels at the rear are also imperative to the rate of establishment. The condition of these must be checked for cracks in the rubber, and again for free rotation, with bearings changed if needed.
The parallelogram linkage should be greased once a season. Check the top bar is running parallel to the ground to afford room for contouring and stone avoidance.
ATTENTION should be paid to pipes which emerge from the turrets in charge of feeding the coulters in metre sections of the drill.
These can be exposed to a lot of movement, causing chaffing and rubbing, but also fracturing as they turn down from the turrets.
Check inside the turrets for water ingress. If present, run the fan to blow it all out. Another area that can present issues is the return line, used when tramlining is operational.
Mr Jordan says rodents can work their way into this pipe and block it with straw and dirt. The best option is disconnecting the pipe from the main air pipe and running the fan again to clear anything present.
A small amount of straw can lead to a blockage, which can in turn lead to the tram lining kit to be turned on for subsequent runs.
As far as tramlining goes, run a tramlining sequence and place your hand on the motors that divert seed from the coulter back into the return line.
Check the motor kicks in and replace if it does not.
VISUALLY check the metering rollers, of which there are four on the example model.
Each year, the flap that ensures the correct amount of seed is dispensed should be adjusted.
It can be placed in one of 10 positions for work, however, when setting it up for the season, ensure it is in the first hole, meaning it is closest to the seed rollers, then adjust the mechanism so that the flap it touching the rollers.
Each flag may need adjusting individually, which is done by tightening two bolts in the bottom of the metering tray.
This is driven electrically, so check the motor is running consistently. An LED should flick on at regular intervals.
Also, check and grease the chain which drives these and the agitator in the bottom of the tank.
Check the agitator is free to rotate and can slide out if not required. Mr Jordan says a top tip when drilling grass seed is to attach a few thick cable ties to the agitator bar, with their tails left on, which help flick the grass seed about and stops bridging in the hopper.
Look inside the hopper and check the condition of the silicone in the corners, which seals the tank. If any looks suspect, reapply to keep it air tight.
In terms of electrics, depending on the age of the drill, some will have a box, others will rely on the tractor’s terminal to run IsoBus functions.
As far a checks go here, ensure the marker counters are working, as without them, the tramlining system will not work properly.
Also, check the metering wheel is properly calibrated, with the correct number of pulses. For this model, with its small metering wheel, Mr Jordan says there should be 90 pulses per 100m or 12 pulses per rotation.
AT the rear, Mr Jordan says scrapers should be just brushing the packer, otherwise they will wear prematurely through a build up of dirt.
Controlling the height of the tines is done via a stepped block which can be altered as the tines wear or a different working depth is required.
This can become burred on its edges, making it harder to move freely. If this is the case, taking the burrs off with a grinder will help.
START by checking around the headstock and structure of the power harrow for any cracking in the framework, and ensure pto shafts are in good condition, greased and properly protected.
The example model had a folding mechanism, which should be checked for play and pivot pins greased.
WITH the drill attached to a tractor, lifted up and propped, grab each tine individually and wriggle to check for excess play.
If there is more movement than would be expected, chances are the rotor bearings are worn.
To replace, pop the cap on top of the rotor trough off and undo the single nut holding the rotor in. The rotor should drop out and the bearing can then be replaced.
Mr Jordan says providing the grease inside the trough is covering all the gears, neither need to be touched on a regular basis, however the breather should be replaced each season to safeguard the trough from excess pressures.
THE next area for attention is the gearboxes. Folding models will have three, while rigid models just one.
The level and colour of oil should be checked. Any cloudy, creamy coloured oil should be drained and
replaced as it could be contaminated with water.
Care should be taken not to overfill them.
Protecting the gearboxes above the trough are clatter clutches that have preset tolerances.
These cannot be adjusted, but only need replacing if tripping regularly.