The covers will finally come off Simba Great Plains’ new Centurion cultivator at next week’s Cereals Event. The Anglo-US firm claims it will give European farmers a new standard of accuracy in drilling, as well as easy maintenance.

The new drill will initially be available as either a 4m or 6m model – the latter being on show at Cereals – with 3m and 8m versions being added to the range later in 2012. The drill is the result of a multi-million pound development programme between the research and design departments of Great Plains, based at Salina, Kansas, USA, and Simba’s Sleaford, Lincolnshire-based team.

A key aim has been to produce a drill that is easy and economic to maintain, says the firm. So nylon bushes replace metal ones, minimising metal-on-metal contact and the need for regular greasing. Also all in-field changes or adjustments can be made without specialist tools.

Several units will be field-trialled across Europe, ahead of a worldwide launch at Agritechnica 2011 in Germany.

* COULTERS

The Centurion’s coulters use a pair of robust 4mm discs which are staggered front/back by 8mm so they can open an effective seed slot in all soil types. They are mounted on heavy-duty arms that provide a down pressure from 40kg (their own weight) to 210kg via hydraulic cylinders.

Coulter depth adjustment is easy and accurate via hand-operated toggles, adds the firm, with the coulters that run behind the tractor wheels easily set to run deeper than the others. Hydraulically adjustable track eradicators that fold automatically as part of the headland turn are also available.

Buyers can specify either 167mm or 125mm spacing, the wider setting being best suited to reduced cultivation systems and narrower spacings to plough-based systems.

* HOPPER AND SEED DELIVERY

The drill’s 4,100-litre hopper includes a front window, internal light and low-seed-level sensors. It can also be mounted on weigh cells to give a readout of the time and acreage remaining until the hopper is empty. When linked to a tractor equipped with GPS, the system can even send alerts back to the farm office to indicate the drill’s position and the length of time until the next fill-up is required.

The hopper has a 2.7m x 1m opening to make bucket loading easier, with a loading auger offered as an option. Seed delivery is aided by an agitator fitted above the seed roller. The roller is powered by a electric motor with a wide speed range (five-120 rpm), so the drill only needs three roller options to provide seed rates of between 0.5kg – 500kg/ha for crops like oilseed rape, cereals and beans.

Metering rollers are made of corrosion-resistant nylon so they can handle fertiliser. Changing rollers is simple, says the company, with a hand-operated isolation panel shutting off seed supply before the roller is easily changed without the need for tools.

The seed distribution heads are said to be of a new design and can be fitted with built-in seed flow sensors. Half width shut-off is available on all models. A weight transfer system – from the hopper to the wings and from the drill body to the coulters – should ensure even drilling depth is maintained at all times.

* CULTIVATION

The cultivation element involves 460mm notched cultivation discs mounted on rubber-damped disc arms. Buyers can specify a full-width front tyre packer to run ahead of the discs and a levelling board running between the cultivation discs and the main tyre roller.

The working depths of both discs and levelling board are independently adjustable in work, with a fully adjustable “progressive entry and exit” system for engaging and disengaging these elements from work also being available, making it very easy to stick to accurate headlands.

A half-lift function that needs relatively little hydraulic oil movement makes turning in the field quicker, says the company, and the operator can adjust the degree of lift so that working elements either brush or lift clear of the soil surface.