Slurry injection may once have been a specialist service offered by contractors, but with fertiliser prices at £300/t and a ban on splashplate application reasonably likely, it’s fast becoming a mainstream farm operation.
There were almost a dozen different companies – including Veenhuis, Major, Cross, Hi-Spec, Joskin, Pichon, Slootsmid and Samson – offering either their own injection units or their tankers with other manufacturers’ injection units fitted – at Stoneleigh and all were reporting a big jump in interest and orders since the beginning of the year. It’s not just contractors branching out into new markets either – farmers are looking to buy units themselves to get the slurry into the ground as quickly and painlessly as possible.
Four main types of injector unit were on show. Disc-based injectors make a deeper slit and are ideal for injection into grassland. Trailing shoe applicators make a shallower groove and can be used in both grassland and arable situations. Dribble bars allow large quantities of slurry to be dispensed, particularly on to growing arable crops, and cultivator based systems are ideal for post-harvest applications on to arable land.
This Joskin is a good example of a trailing show design. Available in 5.1 or 6m widths and with 24 or 28 outlets, it is designed to go on the back of a typically 11,000-litre slurry tanker and can dispense 22,000/litres/ha. Cost is about £28,000
Rising fertiliser prices are prompting new types of application machinery to appear. This Dutch 8m Duport liquid fertiliser applicator being brought in by Yorks company Inject Direct dispenses the fertiliser through stainless steel discs with what look like metal teats around the circumference. The main benefits are that it puts the nutrients 50-75mm down where the roots can get hold of them, there’s no danger of scorch and the whole season’s fertiliser needs can be dispensed in a single pass. Cost of the unit is £40,000.
Rising plastic film costs, caused by soaring oil prices and overstretched production capacity, are prompting balewrap manufacturers to come up with new ideas for making the film go further. BPI Agri, which makes balewrap in Herefordshire, announced two new products for next season. One is Silotite Pro, which is a thinner film that means 40% more length can be put on a reel (hence fewer reel changes) and is more impermeable to oxygen (hence better silage storage). The other is Baletite, which replaces net and means that there will be no need to separate net and bale wrap for waste collection purposes.