3 May 1996

Multi-bed planters havent taken off as makers thought

MULTI-BED, four- and six-row planters are some way off the mainstream, with two- and three-row machines planting into a single bed still the norm.

At the PMBs Spring Potato event in 1993, most manufacturers predicted a swing to four- and six-row machines, with Gregoire Besson, Kverneland and Grimme all parading their examples of the technique at the Nottinghamshire site.

But at last weeks event, it was a different story. The predicted swing of three years ago simply has not materialised, and attention has reverted to more conventional two- and three-row designs.

Speaking at the Staffordshire demonstration, David Holmes of Kverneland (UK) said that four- and six-row planters had not taken off in this country to date because they were still too cumbersome, and effective bed preparation systems had not been developed to match the bigger planters.

Adrian Rickwood of Agrihold (UK), importer for Cramer equipment, agreed saying that most four-row planters which had been sold had gone to growers planting into worked-only ground – not into pre-formed beds.

"Four-row planters operating in beds tend to be offset behind the tractor, which brings its own problems, while the big six-row machines have a high power requirement and are awkward to move between sites."

Given these problems, Cramer has concentrated on developing its two-row, mainstream model. In particular it has boosted hopper capacity of its Junior Spezial from 0.5t to 1.2t capacity.

Also new in the two- and three-row planter sector for 1996 is Standens Big Boy. This intriguingly named machine, which is available both in two- and three-row format, comprises a 1.5t capacity hopper over a belt feed/cup planting system designed to handle chitted seed. To further reduce the risk of chit damage, the hopper can be replaced by a platform for manual feed from trays.

Hydraulic selector

Big Boy options include a hydraulic space selector (£2000), which enables in-cab adjustment of seed spacing, and auto depth control (£1400) to compensate for uneven tracks left by a preceding destoner.

Sensing for the depth control comes from a front-mounted, central depth wheel. This sends an appropriate signal to the main hydraulic valve chest which either lifts or lowers two rams to maintain planting depth.

Price of the Big Boy range starts at £9000 and rises to about £15,000.

The Pearson-Besson planter, the result of a marketing agreement between Richard Pearson and Gregoire Besson, was one of a number of two-row machines debuting at the Potato Marketing Boards Potato Planting 96.