LOTS TO OFFER DRILL SEEKERS
Resurgence of interest in forage maize has prompted increased activity among drill manufacturers. Peter Hill provides a run-down of the equipment available together with a price guide to four- and six-row machines
IMPROVED depth control and more accurate spacing, fertiliser placement and the option of mulch or direct drilling.
These are among the characteristics of the latest precision drills for maize. And with more than half a dozen manufacturers now offering well-developed and effective equipment in the UK – Amazone being the latest newcomer – contractors and growers are spoilt for choice.
Placing a little phosphate and nitrogen into the root zone is also now recognised as a worthwhile technique, so all makers now offer fertiliser hoppers and placement coulters as optional equipment.
Fertiliser hopper capacity is worth weighing up. Ideally, it must be sufficient so that refills coincide with replenishing seed in order to cut downtime. Likewise, it should be large enough to take the contents of a 0.5t big bag. Ferrag has introduced a hopper extension for the Accord Optima drills for that purpose and similar add-ons are available for most comparable designs. When bulk supplies are used an integral filling auger could be the more important, though more expensive, option.
Another alternative, again from Accord, is to use a 1500-litre (330gal) hopper mounted on the front of the tractor. That has the advantage of increasing the amount of material carried while improving overall weight distribution. The same hopper, metering system and blower can also be used with other drills and fertiliser broadcasters.
Apart from Beckers Aeromat all maize drills use the vacuum seed selection principle, sucking seed against perforations in a disc (or rubber belt in the case of the Herriau Turbosem eight- and 12-row drills). Doubles are knocked off by an adjustable scraper before the vacuum is released to drop the seed singly into the ground. The Kleine Multicorn differs in releasing the separated seed into individual chambers from where it is mechanically ejected into the seed tube. In contrast to the other designs the Aeromat has a serrated disc with seed held singly in the base of the serrations by air pressure.
But after the seed is selected and dispatched, spacing accuracy is a key requirement.
Ease of calibration and adjustment is also clearly important if operators are to be encouraged to do a consistently good job. In that respect Armer claims an advance for the Monosems single quadrant adjustment of the seed metering "scraper" and vacuum strength, both of which must be altered to suit seed of different sizes. The Monosem NG is otherwise conventional in having a cast coulter but the NG Plus reflects a trend towards twin disc openers supported on either side by rubber depth wheels.
Gaspardo, Becker, Kleine and Accord have similar designs, though only the Monosem has depth wheels that can move independently over errant clods or stones. Either way, regulating sowing depth at the point of penetration should provide more accurate control than a press wheel positioned several cm further back from the coulter, especially on less than ideal seed-beds.
Twin discs can also cope with heavier soil types or seed-beds that are not quite up to scratch, clearing a path through clods and heavier soil patches more effectively than a conventional boot-type coulter. Indeed they are also being used for sowing maize seed direct into crop residues or after only minimal preparatory cultivations.
Extra down-force is generally needed for such an approach, which Accord recognises with down-force adjustable on the twin-disc Optima from the standard 80kg to 180kg.
Combination cultivation and sowing is Amazones answer to improved maize seeding efficiency. Its newly-developed range of four- and six-row drills can either be operated conventionally or on a power harrow/tyre packer combination for one-pass, final seed-bed working and sowing. Dropping seed into the moist, firm seed-bed produced is said to have improved germination rates by up to 12% in trials. *
Maize drills price guide – basic models are listed with the list price including electronic monitor and fertiliser placement shown alongside.
Four-row maize drills
ListMake and modelFrameWithMonitor/Price (£)monitor (£)fertiliser(£)
4,643Nodet Pneumasem IIrigid5,5636,711
4,656Nodet Pneumasem Juniorrigid5,5957,124
4,800Stanhay Soloaire 620rigiddealer option6600*
6,133Accord Optima 3mrigid7,2098,812
6,450Becker Aeromat M4-Krigidstandard7,400
6,990Monosem NG Plusrigid7,8109,160
8,860Becker Aeromat M4-KZrigidstandardstandard
19,900Jeantil Plassem (plastic mulch)rigidnono
* price excludes monitor
Six-row maize drills
ListMake and modelFrameWithMonitor/Price (£)monitorfertiliser
6,143Nodet Pneumasem IIrigid7,2358,914
6,306Nodet Planter Juniorrigid7,4159,658
7,330Nodet Planter Juniortelesc.8,43910,682
7,956Nodet Pneumasem IItelesc.9,048n/a
9,039Accord Optima 4.5mrigid10,33412,349
9,490Monosem NG Plusrigid10,31012,345
10,729Accord Optima 4mtelesc.12,02413,972
10,990Monosem NG Plustelesc.11,97013,845
10,995Becker Aeromat T-6telesc.standard12,995
11,500Becker Aeromat M6-KRrigidstandardstandard
poaAmazone ED451-Kpara foldingstandardtba
Amazone(01302 751200) – Amazone
Armer Machinery(01485 520318) – Monosem
Burdens(01205 460466) – Jeantil
Danagri(01629 734835) – Becker
Ferrag(01942 272777) – Accord
Garford(01778 342642) — Kleine
Mill Engineers(01285 740408) – Gaspardo
Mark Grimwade(01473 787210) — Nodet
Stanhay(01638 577206) – Stanhay
Standen Reflex(01353 699429) – Herriau
Combination cultivation and seeding offers improved germination rates, claims maize seed drill newcomer Amazone. This six-row ED451-K maize drill has a fertiliser placement system and is also coupled to a power harrow and rubber wheel packer.
Disc drills, like this six-row Gaspardo MT600, are designed to cope with cobblier seed-beds better than conventional coulter units. Wear rates are also lower and placing gauge wheels either side of the discs gives good depth control.