Using a wider tine coulter to sow seed in 200mm bands should cut power requirement and running costs on the latest addition to the Horsch Sprinter drill range.

The new Sprinter ST design, with its more streamlined hopper shape and weight-saving build, has already taken over from the Horsch CO drill in 4m and 6m sizes. For the 8m version, Horsch has gone a step further by changing to a two-row coulter layout.

Fitting wider band sowing shoes means fewer coulters are needed, so trash clearance is good, wearing parts costs are reduced and the drill should be easier to pull.

Although established users of Horsch band-sowing drills say they are happy with the system, newcomers will have to get used to the disappointing initial appearance of crops, says Guy Leversha from UK importer Simba.

“They do tend to look a bit scruffy at first,” he says. “But that’s because the more evenly-spaced seedlings put more energy into root development. Once top growth gets under way in April/May, the crop looks better and the plants benefit from a better root structure.”

While the 8m and 12m Horsch CO drills have a three-bar frame and 175mm band-sowing coulters mounted on the back of a trailed seed hopper, the new Sprinter 8 ST has 200mm band coulters on a two-bar frame with the seed hopper mounted on top.

This layout loses the weight distribution advantage of using a separate trailed hopper, but Simba believes it is a small penalty to pay for the Sprinter’s more compact and manoeuvrable configuration.

“In terms of power requirement, we’re looking at saving around 100hp,” Mr Leversha says. “Anyone using a CO 8 should be able to run the same size Sprinter a bit faster using less fuel or could switch to a smaller tractor.”

The Sprinter and CO tine drills are aimed mainly at growers on shallow, flinty and abrasive soils, who often do not need very high horsepower tractors. The Sprinter 6 ST should be able to drill 40ha (100 acres) a day behind a 180-200hp tractor.

Early examples of the Sprinter 8 ST – including one operated on an Essex farm last year – are said to be performing well and Philip Horsch, who oversees product development, confirms that a 12m version with 3.3m easy-folding transport width is on its way.