15 August 1997

EASTONS DISC DECISION

EASTONS DISC DECISION

JUSTIFYING the need for a new set of discs at farmers weeklys 242ha (598-acre) Easton Lodge arable and pig farm near Stamford, Lincs, is easy.

The question facing manager John Lambkin and arable foreman David Cham for the past 12 months has been, which discs?

"We wanted a disc cultivator that could be used for top work as well as primary cultivation, that could easily be adjusted to suit our varying soil types, and which could be operated happily behind our 120hp tractor," Mr Lambkin explains.

The policy for autumn-sown break and cereal crops at Easton Lodge is to drill early and use low seed rates. That is fine, given good germination.

"The past two seasons have emphasised how that can be compromised by having to plough early to cope with the workload and end up creating hard, dry seed-beds," notes Mr Lambkin.

"Surface trash is not much of a problem since 80% of our straw is baled," says Mr Lambkin. "But, even so, we have traditionally ploughed as much as we can to provide a clean, well-structured seed-bed for the Accord drill."

The trouble is, inverting the soil then working it down to a seed-bed can be costly in moisture as well as time and energy. In the past two dry autumns, the heavy Ransomes offset discs that first arrived on the farm 15 years ago have been pressed into service.

The implement coped well, Mr Lambkin reports, cutting through the trash and producing a decent enough tilth after a couple of passes. Its performance emphasised the potential to use a disc cultivator more extensively in future.

"The main role will be to relieve pressure on the plough and, in particular, produce an acceptable seed-bed in years when soil moisture is at a premium," says Mr Lambkin.

"In the end, it was the ability to adjust gang angle and weight transfer on-the-move that favoured the Kverneland DTA discs we have bought," Mr Lambkin explains. "Soil types contrast quite markedly within fields and the way a cultivator works on the silt hollows and stony ridges is very different."

Individual hydraulic rams and linkage mechanisms enable the front and rear gangs to be angled separately and the same system is used to swing the gangs in line behind the tractor for transport.

Variable weight transfer is achieved using a hydraulic cylinder that forms part of the parallel lift linkage between transport wheels and drawbar.

A working width of 4.5m (14ft 10in) – the smallest of three sizes in the DTA range – was chosen as the best match for the farms 120hp Fendt 312LSA. Disc size is the larger of two available at 660mm (26in) diameter which, with 40 in all, results in a weight a disc of some 90kg (198lb). This can be increased to 100kg (220lb) using optional weight trays and ballast.

"This is not the cheapest set of discs around but there are few with on-the-move adjustability and its a feature that Im sure will be useful here," says Mr Lambkin. "Equally, the standard of engineering and overall build is impressive and we need equipment last for 10-15 years."n

On-the-move adjustment and a good capacity for secondary cultivations prompted Easton Lodge to invest in these Kverneland discs.

EASTON DISCS

&#8226 Kverneland DTA 4.5m hydraulic folding.

&#8226 Suit primary and secondary work.

&#8226 On-the-move adjustments.