Farmer Focus: Prismatic roller fits in with environmental aims

Farm machinery is not my forte – it never has been. I have little love or interest in engines, wheel sizes or horse power, but thankfully there are many who do.

These contractors are the worker ants of our farming communities. Mowing, tedding, raking, baling and harvesting around the clock – they dance to the whimsy of weather delays and farmer indecision.

About the author

Gillian O’Sullivan
Livestock Farmer Focus writer Gillian O’Sullivan milks 100 crossbred cows once-a-day with her husband Neil and father Michael on Ireland’s South-East coast. They operate a seasonal calving, grass-based system with milk supplied to Glanbia trying to deliver work-life-balance and system resilience.
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Marching on through hectare after hectare, as long as food supply lines to the cab are robust and meaty.

Fortunately, the weather has fallen kindly for our maincrop silage and, a few days later, for slurry application under ideal cloudy skies via low-emission spreading – we couldn’t have asked for better.

See also: Award-winning dairy farmer shares grassland management strategy

While all this was happening, we decided to buy a new machine.

The Guttler Greenmaster arrives this week, and we hope it will help us to  improve our grassland management programme. The Greenmaster has harrow tines, a prismatic roller and a mounted air seeder, and both the harrow and roller can be used individually, or combined.

I say prismatic roller like it’s a phrase I use all the time. Believe me, it’s not. A prismatic roller, I have learned, is one with many teeth that impact the soil in a manner similar to a sheep’s hoof.

The tines rip the soil surface, removing dead material and freshening up the seed-bed, while the teeth of the roller knead the soil to ensure good seed-to-soil contact. Ideally, two runs on a field work best, as well as moist conditions to help seed germination.

So, why have we gone with this machine? Firstly, we want to speed up clover incorporation into ryegrass swards and, along with our annual reseeding, we hope to continue oversowing clover on established pasture.

We have tried different methods of oversowing and, as the Guttler can deal with small seeds such as clover, as well as incorporate the seed at a shallow depth, it is our preferred option.

In addition to this, a key consideration is reducing carbon losses and maintaining soil structure, both of which are helped through minimal soil disturbance with machines such as this. Watch this space.