FG BUY&SELL        FARMERS WEATHER       ARABLE FARMING        DAIRY FARMER      FARMERS GUARDIAN        AGRIMONEY        OUR EVENTS        MEMBERSHIP BENEFITS        BLOGS        MORE FROM US

You are viewing 1 of your 2 free articles

You’ll need to join us by becoming a member to gain more access.
Already a Member?

Login Join us now

Making seeds count: how low can you go?

Insights

In search of the ultimate establishment system for oilseed rape, one Norfolk grower has adopted a precision drilling approach in a bid to guarantee seed placement accuracy. Geoff Ashcroft reports.

Twitter Facebook
Drill main

A 4m TWB subsoiler with seven-row Kverneland Monopill precision drill allows precise placement of oilseed rape at a seed rate of 1kg/ha.

Chris Eglington is no stranger to growing oilseed rape. Over the past 20 years, the crop has been a key element of the rotation at the 404-hectare (1,000-acre) North Hill Farm, Letton.


Throughout that time, rape establishment methods have been occasionally refined, as Mr Eglington seeks out the most suitable solution for his soils to give a successful and low cost establishment process.


As a result, his latest process is one he believes might be difficult to improve upon. More commonly used for sugar beet, rape at North Hill is established with a Kverneland Monopill precision drill.


It is a system which has given Mr Eglington the precise seed placement – depth and intra-row spacing – he sought.

Chris Eglington believes precision drilling could unlock more potential with oilseed rape crops.

He says: “I have always believed oilseed rape is one of the most cost-effective crops to establish, but a lot hinges on seed placement accuracy.


“And precision seeding of oilseed rape is, I believe, the only way to guarantee accuracy with low seed rates without compromising on yield and profitability.”


Mr Eglington’s search for the ultimate establishment system led him into subsoiling and planting using an old Accord drilling system. He soon progressed to an Opico Varicast system for better accuracy with the subsoiler, but he still was not seeing the results he thought were achievable.


“One of the biggest issues was getting an accurate seed rate,” he says. “Broadcasting seed from outlets behind a sub-soiler is immensely inaccurate.


“While plant numbers and seeds/ha were not even a consideration at the time, we were just blowing seed onto, and in some cases deep into, the ground where the legs had been.”


It took a near crop failure to highlight to Mr Eglington just how far oilseed rape could go and reveal the extent of the crop’s ability to recover and compensate.

At 570mm (22in) row widths, the crop benefits from light and space to grow.

He says this proved a point that thin crops could produce an acceptable yield.


The following season, he carried out his own trials and cut seed rates in one field to 1kg/ha and continued to drill by seed weight.


He says: “We had a count of 24 seeds/sq.metre going into winter and about 16/17 coming out of winter. Adjacent fields were planted at 2.5kg/ha and 3kg/ha, respectively, and there was no noticeable yield difference.”


This was to prove the catalyst for further change at North Hill Farm and it encouraged Mr Eglington to cut seed rates on his entire crop. But to do so meant every seed had to count and each seed had to be planted precisely.


“We had to get seed rates down to progress. And the only way forward in my mind was to use a precision seeder combined with the subsoiler as a one-pass system.


“The Monopill was the only precision drill I could find which could handle rapeseed without it having to be pelleted.”


On-farm trials quickly revealed the precision drill worked best with seed having a 1,000-grain weight between four and six.


Mr Eglington says: “Below four, we would get doubles, and anything above six would create seed cracking. So I choose to have my rapeseed sized to 5.5 and we now plant precisely 21 seeds/sq.m – the equivalent of 1kg/ha.”


The Monopill precision seeder is carried on a three-point linkage on the back of a 4m TWB subsoiler, right behind the packer roller. This allows the drill to be easily removed should any additional subsoiling be required.

Modifications to the TWB subsoiler allow liquid fertiliser and slug pellets to be applied ahead of the drill.

On-farm trials quickly revealed the precision drill worked best with seed having a 1,000-grain weight between four and six.


Mr Eglington says: “Below four, we would get doubles, and anything above six would create seed cracking. So I choose to have my rapeseed sized to 5.5 and we now plant precisely 21 seeds/sq.m – the equivalent of 1kg/ha.”


The Monopill precision seeder is carried on a three-point linkage on the back of a 4m TWB subsoiler, right behind the packer roller. This allows the drill to be easily removed should any additional subsoiling be required.

 

The TWB implement has, however, had its frame heavily modified by its creator to give Mr Eglington the highly effective one-pass system now in use.


With seven legs on the subsoiler, this required a corresponding drill frame equipped with seven electrically driven seeding units to give 570mm (22in) row spacing across the 4m working width.


Behind each of the TWB’s seven legs sits a liquid fertiliser nozzle, while a slug pellet outlet follows inline, but behind the packer roller. The location of nozzles ensures positioning of nutrients and pellets in a band where rapeseed will be placed.

 

Double rolling is an essential part of oilseed rape establishment at North Hill Farm.

Immediately after drilling, the seedbed is double-rolled using a 50 per cent overlap from a 16.3m set of rolls which adheres to an 8m controlled traffic farming regime.


The additional consolidation means Mr Eglington rarely needs to apply slug pellets post-drilling.


He says: “In the drill’s first season, we saw yields of 4.8 tonnes/ha at 7 per cent moisture over the farm weighbridge during the 2014 harvest. Last season proved a little better, bringing our yield average to about 5t/ha.”


Now in his third season of precision planting oilseed rape, he says each season the process gets better and more accurate.


“We want to make the most of the Monopill and achieve a down-the-row plant spacing of 89-102mm. And after just three seasons of precision planting, we are 98 per cent there.

 

Precision planting gives more accuracy with down-the-row spacings.

“Down-the-row seed spacing is tremendously even and the drill has proved so precise we used just 74kg of seed to establish 70ha of oilseed rape.”


Output, behind the farm’s Versatile 435 tractor, is 20ha/day, with RTK guidance keeping the farm on the right wheelings to make the most of controlled traffic farming (CTF).


Mr Eglington says: “Despite running on 520/85 R46 dual wheels, the whole outfit sits nicely within our CTF system. I am not keen on rubber tracks, and with the recent combine swap from a Lexion 570 and 7.5m header to a Lexion 750 and 9m header, we are well on the way to managing and controlling compaction. This will help all our crops in addition to the rape.”


Mr Eglington believes correctly set tyre pressures on all his machinery – tractors, harvester, sprayer and trailers – should help contain any compaction within the top 125mm (5in) of topsoil.


“We plough to 254mm, which means it is relatively easy to deal with any compaction issues.”


While precision planting oilseed rape is still in its infancy at North Hill Farm, Mr Eglington is pleased with the establishment system in use.


He says: “We still have a long way to go, but I am very happy with the route we have chosen. And because of the increased accuracy achieved by the Monopill, I am hopeful we will be producing five-tonne plus rape crops year-after-year.”

SS Eglington and Son facts

  • Farm: North Hill, Letton, Norfolk
  • Size: 404 hectares (1,000 acres)
  • Soil types: From loamy sand to heavy silty clay loam
  • Cropping: Winter wheat, winter barley, oilseed rape and peas
  • OSR establishment: Four-metre TWB subsoiler with seven-row Monopill precision drill
Twitter Facebook
Rating (0 vote/s)
Post a Comment
To see comments and join in the conversation please log in.

Related sections

Farm features across all fields

Farm features across all fields

Features focusing on farming, food, people and history, from all walks of life.

More Insights

Where next for robotics?

Although research into automation of farming tasks is gathering pace, getting it into the field on a commercial scale remains a challenge.

User Story: JCB conversion gets to work

Launched at last year’s Lamma show, Knight Farm Machinery’s forward-control conversion, based on JCB’s latest 4000-series Fastrac, has been hard at work this year with Agrii. Geoff Ashcroft reports.

Buyer’s guide: JCB Fastrac 3000 Series

If you are seeking a 200hp tractor to handle a wide variety of trailer work, while still capable of field duties, a used JCB Fastrac 3000 should be on your shortlist.

VIDEO: On-test: Is this the future of round baling?

There is always scepticism when a manufacturer comes to market with a radical new product, but could Vicon be on to something with its non-stop round baler?

New event will help grow your business

An inspiring day packed full of motivational speakers and practical advice lie at the heart of a new event being brought to farmers wishing to grow and tackle some of the most common challenges in the industry. Danusia Osiowy takes a look at why The Business of Farming conference is one not to be missed.
FG Insight and FGInsight.com are trademarks of Briefing Media Ltd.
Farmers Guardian and FarmersGuardian.com are trademarks of Farmers Guardian Ltd, a subsidiary of Briefing Media Ltd.
All material published on FGInsight.com and FarmersGuardian.com is copyrighted © 2016 by Briefing Media Limited. All rights reserved.
RSS news feeds