21 January 2000

Drilling system can cut down chemical inputs

DENMARKs farmers are becoming increasingly pressurised through legislation to adopt environmentally acceptable techniques for crop production, such as reduced use of pesticides and inorganic fertiliser.

Predictably, this has encouraged manufacturers to develop a range of implements for control of weeds in crops.

One of the latest developments in this direction comes from Denmarks CMN Maskintec. The company has produced a seed drilling system which, it claims results in reduced nitrogen requirements for the crop – and, in some cases, less need for chemical weed control.

Key to the system is a rotary cultivator which prepares a 10cm strip of soil at 25cm intervals across the width of the drill. The remaining 15cm uncultivated strips with their covering of nitrogen producing clover is shielded by skid plates to prevent them being covered with soil.

Seed – all types, says the manufacturer – is then drilled into the prepared strip and pressed by a roller. Trials with the system have, it is claimed, been promising with only slight reduction in yields despite the 250mm gap between rows.

More importantly, perhaps, is that a degree of weed control is achieved through the smothering action of the clover and a reduction in surface applied nitrogen.

CMN sees the process as a continuous system – the initial clover cover could be established either by sowing seed in a stubble or through a one-off undersowing operation.

Reduced pesticide and nitrogen use is claimed for the CMN drilling system. Only the seed drills are cultivated.