11 June 1999

Amazone new drill rolls in

By Andy Collings

THE latest addition to the Amazone range of drills is the Airstar Xact – a 6m grain-only cultivation drill, which the company claims has the potential of a 5ha/hour (12.5-acre) work rate.

Designed to work on ploughed land or directly into the mulch of previous crops, power harrows create the initial tilth into which the seed is sown via disc seed coulters. Ring rollers and following harrows provide a firm seed-bed and seed covering.

The Airstar Xact is semi-mounted to the tractor with the rest of the drill supported on a chassis running on two wheels. In work, the wheels are retracted to spread the weight of the modules across the full working width of the drill. Depth control of the power harrow is controlled by altering the height of the front roller.

A track-following drawbar helps with tight headland turns and, included in the specification, is a swivel-type gearbox to enable pto drive to the harrow to continue without undue stress.

As for the seed unit – seed is metered from a 4000-litre capacity hopper and delivered to the coulters via two distributor heads fed by one hydraulically powered blower.

Tramlining operations are controlled using Amazones cab-mounted Amados computer system which also monitors seed hopper level and blower speed, while also registering area sown.

Options include computer controlled pre-emergence and a choice of disc or Suffolk coulters and pre-emergence markers.

Folding hydraulically to a transport width of 3m, the 8.6m long Airstar Xact has a list price of £59,000.

Prototype straw rationer cuts the bills

A MACHINE for rationing bedding straw from big square bales won the top award in the farm inventions competition at this years Suffolk Show.

The straw dispenser operates hydraulically and is attached to a fore-end loader or a telehandler, and was built by Kent farmer Hugh Richards at Pullen Barns Farm, Biddenden, Ashford.

Mr Richards developed the machine last year to speed up the straw bedding job in his beef unit. He wanted a cheaper, less complicated alternative to buying a chopper/spreader and another objective was the flexibility to deliver the right amount of straw to suit the size of the building or yard being littered.

He finished making his prototype machine 12 months ago, and since then it has handled almost 3000 big bales. Because it is easy to avoid using too much straw in each place, Mr Richards says he has reduced his straw use by 15%.

The machine holds up two big bales and uses Claas Quadrant bales, but other shapes and sizes including standard 80cm cross section bales are suitable. Bales are self-loaded by pushing the dispenser into the stack, and they are carried lengthwise and held in place by pressure from the adjustable sides of the unit.

When the bale strings are cut, the unit is ready to work. A hydraulically operated arm slowly pushes the bales forwards, allowing individual bundles or wafers of straw to fall off as they reach the front of the dispenser.

The operator can drive round a large yard, controlling the amount of straw released by adjusting the speed of the pushing arm and the forward speed of the tractor.

The prototype machine worked so well that Mr Richards has patented the idea, and hopes to develop it commercially.

"It is less expensive than bedding machines which chop the straw, and it is also much more simple with less to go wrong," he said. "I would like to have a royalty agreement with a manufacturer, but if that doesnt happen I will probably arrange to have the machines built and do the marketing myself."

Runners-up in the competition included John Catchpole of Bury St Edmunds, and E T Archer of Old Hall Farm, Tuddenham, Ipswich.

Till for spring & autumn

KVERNELANDS Startiller with Rau twin rotor system can be converted into two implements to cater for spring and autumn tillage operations.

As a heavy duty implement for single pass cultivation in the spring, the implement works soil with a levelling bar, adjustable crumbler roller, three rows of straight tines, spring-loaded twin star tiller – followed by a heavy crosskill ratchet roller. With working widths of 5m and 6m, drills are attached to the Startiller via its own three-point linkage.

Available with optional three-point linkage, this combination is designed for working in medium to heavy soils.

For autumn work and working in mulched seed-beds, the three rows of straight tines and front crumbler can be changed with two rows of heavy-duty pigtail tines and A-shares.

Prices for the front mounted and trailed versions are from £2125 and £20,531, respectively.