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Challenging the view that low establishment cost = low yield

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Claydon has over 20 years’ direct drilling experience. Its leading tine drill is at the heart of the Opti-Till® system of sustainable crop establishment, delivering low-cost, high-yield solutions while improving soil health.

It is a popular belief that by reducing your costs and switching away from conventional methods of crop es¬tablishment to low disturbance drilling, yields are reduced.

There is, however, a mounting body of evidence which challenges this view. A recent study by the AHDB recorded the costs against yields for 20 of its Monitor Farms with some interesting findings.

Graph: autumn cultivations and winter crop establishment

Excerpt from AHDB Webinar Autumn Cultivations and Winter Crop Establishment

Farm 12 recorded the lowest establishment costs, totalling £32.50 / ha for its drilling and rolling operations. The breakdown of costs and machinery used is detailed below:

Pie chart: establishment costs

It might be expected that the farm with the lowest costs would also have the lowest yields. In this case, Farm 12 achieved the second highest yields across the 20 Monitor Farms at 10 tonnes / ha.

The full findings can be found in this AHDB Webinar:

Feedback from the field

The experience of those who have switched to the the Claydon Opti-Till system supports these findings; far from reduced yields, yields have been maintained at the same level and, in many cases, have increased, as reported by growers across the country:

UK Map

  1. “After just two years of using the Claydon Opti-Till system yields were back to 4.3t/a, while establishment costs were a fraction of what they had been before.”
  2. “Since introducing the Claydon Opti-Till system our average yields have definitely increased. Most of the winter wheats are milling varieties which average over 4t/a (9.88t/ha), and we have had up to 5t/a (12.35t/ha). Oilseed rape has always averaged around 2 t/a (5t/ha) . . . the Claydon Opti-Till system has transformed the way that I farm and helped to ensure the financial sustainability of the operation.”
  3. “The objective was to save time, effort and cost while maintaining yields, all of which have been achieved.”
  4. “It’s hard to tell whether our yields have increased since moving to the Claydon Opti-Till system, as every year the weather has been the limiting factor. However, we are certain that yields haven’t declined while our costs have reduced dramatically.”

More information on those reducing their costs but experiencing healthy yields can be found at

Two-tine technology promotes healthy crop growth

What is it about the Claydon drill that encourages healthy yields? The two-tine technology seeds direct into stubble, the leading tine loosening and aerating soil in the rooting and seeding zone giving the seed the perfect environment to grow away quickly and with ease.

Water drains away from the seed which is placed in a band of tilth above. The seed taps into moisture conserved in the undisturbed banks of soil either side of the seeded band. Air and light infiltrate the seeded rows.

Worm populations thrive in the undisturbed soil and nutrient levels increase. A healthy environment is provided for the growing crop, reflected in healthy yields.

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