Putting fertiliser down the spout or through separate coulters gives grain and oilseed crops an early feed. Peter Hill reports on two different approaches to fertiliser delivery.


While celebrating a landmark with the production of combination drills having topped 100,000 units, Amazone is further expanding its range of power harrow-based seeders with a grain and fertiliser outfit promising decent output thanks to a generous hopper capacity.

Hitherto, growers wanting to dribble fertiliser along with seed from an Amazone combination have had to rely on dealer-fitted solutions.

Available in 3m and 4m working widths, the factory-built “Duo” outfit comprises an Amazone AD-P Super rear-mounted drill with 2000-litre hopper for seed and a front-mounted FPS104 hopper, also of 2000-litres capacity, for fertiliser.

“The front hopper has its own metering mechanism, feeding fertiliser into a pneumatic transfer pipe that conveys it to a second distribution head on the drill,” explains Simon Brown of Amazone. “By using stainless steel entry pipes attached to the outside of each Ro-Tec+ disc coulter, fertiliser and seed are delivered separately with no risk of corrosion to the coulter itself.”

Pre-sowing seed-bed consolidation is taken care of by a steering tyre packer beneath the front hopper that firms the soil between the tractor tyres, and a wedge ring roller supporting the drill.

“Optional equipment includes a tramline shut-off for the fertiliser,” adds Mr Brown. “Given the drilling outfit’s 12.5cm row spacing, fertiliser wastage could otherwise amount to 3% or 11kg/ha on a 24m tramline system.”

A different approach has been taken by Vaderstad with the seed and fertiliser version of the Spirit light- to medium-soil disc drill.

On this machine, fertiliser is delivered through band coulters – an arrangement that has the added attraction for some growers that the drill can also be used to under-sow cereal crops with grass and drill forage crops such as peas with barley.

“The Spirit System Disc Combi will apply fertiliser across the full working width of the machine, but separate from the seed, while placing some into the seed row like the mixed drill developed for growers in Scotland,” says Mike Alsop of Vaderstad. “Growers can also use it to sow oilseed rape with fertiliser and as a plain drill for autumn cereals – or apply phosphate at the same time.”

The Vaderstad Spirit completes seed-bed preparation with two rows of angled discs before consolidating the resulting tilth with a row of purpose-moulded packer tyres. Twin disc coulters of 380mm diameter, mounted on a spring steel arm and with a large diameter press wheel behind, sow the seed.

Purpose-designed steel tube coulters attached to selected cultivating disc mounting arms place the fertiliser in a band about 25mm wide and 25mm deep. Positioning them in line with the seed disc coulters, which are spaced at 12.5cm, means nutrients are delivered where required, but avoiding seed burn.

A divided hopper – based on the unit used on the Seed Hawk tine no-till drill – provides 1925 litres of seed capacity up front and 1975 litres of fertiliser capacity behind, with two Fenix metering units and external distribution heads feeding the coulters.

Two trailed sizes are available – 4m and 6m – with all soil-engaging elements, such as the Crossboard front levelling tines, cultivating discs, offset consolidation wheels and twin-disc coulters, being the same as on standard Spirit models.

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A 2000-litre front tank, a dedicated distribution head and separate delivery tubes provide seed and fertiliser sowing with Amazone’s tractor-mounted RDP-A harrow-based drill.

Vaderstad_Spirit_Combi

Väderstad’s Spirit seed drill, designed for light- to medium-soil conditions, can now be had in Combi format – note the fertiliser delivery pipes leading to the steel tube band coulters attached to selected cultivation disc mounting arms.


Quick and controlled

High-speed drilling with greater control and flexibility is promised now that Kuhn’s Megant tine coulter air drill is available with the Quantron S electronic control system.

Seed metering is orchestrated electronically, with a forward speed sensor and electric motor replacing conventional land wheel drive, so that pre-metering in corners and at headlands, and early shut-off at the ends of rows, is possible to improve overall accuracy. It also allows infinitely-variable seed rates within the machine’s range and on-the-move rate adjustment – to compensate for different seed bed conditions, for example.

Kuhn says the Megant is designed for minimum tillage sowing or rapid sowing in heavy and stony soils. Its patented tine mounting is said to ensure good penetration and consistent seeding depth, with almost 20cm of clearance available should a tine meet a large obstacle.

There are six working widths from 4m to 6m, all using the Venta metering system with a 1700 litre hopper as standard and tine coulters arranged in four rows for plant residue clearance.

Electronic seed metering drive and control using the Quatron S system allows operators of the Kuhn Megant tine drill to pre-meter in corners and at headlands and to alter seed rate on the move.


One pass

Growers who like the one-pass performance of a power harrow for working down seedbeds across different soil types can opt for this cultivation tool on the latest version of the Lemken Compact-Solitair seeder.

The trailed Compact-Solitair was originally developed for use with the company’s Heliodor compact disc harrow slotted into the frame ahead of packers and OptiDisc coulters. It remains available in 3m to 6m sizes for 120hp to 300hp tractors.

On the new “KK” version, Lemken has replaced the two rows of notched discs with a Zircon 10 power harrow to provide more intensive cultivation for seedbed creation in a single pass across most soil types after ploughing or stubble cultivating.

It is available in a single size – 6m – with a centre-split folding mechanism for the harrow, packer and seed coulters.

With a 4500-litre hopper providing generous seed supplies, this should give the outfit a decent output. The hopper has a tight-fitting solid plastic cover and is available with external and internal lighting for operators prepared to continue drilling come nightfall.

Seeder specifications include electric drive to the metering system, providing infinitely variable rate adjustment up to 500kg/ha and on-the-move variation to compensate for different soil types or conditions using the Solitronic PRO in-cab controller and performance monitor. Coulter pressure adjustment and headland management functions are also handled by this unit.

The Zircon 10 is Lemken’s most durable power harrow; its “speedshift” transmission is designed to take up to 320hp and the quick-change tines are hardened for wear resistance in abrasive soils.

The harrow is positioned ahead of a staggered row of 1070mm diameter packer tyres – said to be the largest on an implement of this type – for good flotation in wet conditions combined with effective consolidation as the two halves follow ground contours independently.

A trapeze packer roller positioned in front of the coulters gives targeted pre-consolidation, with weight distribution between this unit and the tyre packer hydraulically adjustable.

Seed is placed by OptiDisc double disc coulters mounted on parallel linkage suspension with central hydraulic coulter pressure adjustment applying up to 70kg per coulter. An integral press wheel, then a covering harrow, completes the job.

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Growers who like the power harrow-seed drill combination approach to sowing but want more capacity can opt for Lemken’s 6m trailed Compact-Solitair 9KK.


Seed treatment

Growers used to high-tech touch screen controls on their tractors and grain driers will find similar technology installed on the latest seed treatment applicators.

It helps operators set-up and monitor the performance of equipment that has become increasingly sophisticated to maintain high standards of seed coverage using materials applied at lower rates.

“Time schedules for treatment are tight, so a high level of reliability and application quality is imperative,” says Adrian Cottey, Bayer CropScience seed treatment manager.

The Evolution is a modular, flexible design which can be installed in a static plant or on a mobile unit and is capable of applying materials such as Bayer’s Modesto, Redigo and Redigo Deter at up to 30t/hr. That level of output is essential if seed is to be prepared in time for a frantic sowing programme.

“We’ll start treating barley here in the third week of July and oilseed rape at the start of the month in our Moreton plant in Essex,” explains Martin Vousden, Masstock’s seed production manager at Finmere, Bucks.

“These machines allow us to check that the application is correct at any stage of the operation, which is essential if we’re to achieve the high standard we’re aiming for,” he points out.

Latest version of the high-tech Evolution seed treatment applicator developed by Bayer CropScience aims to raise standards further.