Ground rules – preparation is the key to success

A seed drill designed for minimum tillage and plough-based crop establishment techniques formed the centre piece of a vast Simba Great Plains display at Cereals 2011, which not only demonstrated the new entity’s pan-European sales ambitions, but also heralded Simba’s return to supplying UK-manufactured seeders.

While the Freeflow has long since disappeared from the company’s portfolio – though it remained popular on the used market for sowing beans – investment at the Lincolnshire headquarters in additional manufacturing and assembly facilities was preparing the way for the Centurion.

“Having several years’ experience of the Horsch drill and studied its main competitor, the Väderstad Rapid, we’re well aware of the advantages and pitfalls of both designs,” said project leader Ben Covell. “We’ve taken those into account in producing a drill pitched mid-way between those two machines in terms of weight and power requirement, aiming for the heavier end of the soil spectrum.”

In general layout, the Centurion displays a familiar mix: two rows of serrated discs followed by an optional paddle tine levelling board for tackling clods on plough-based seed-beds, then a staggered row of tyres to consolidate the resulting tilth.

The tyres are arranged directly in line with the twin-disc coulters – the only items to came from the extensive Great Plains portfolio of implements and components.

“With up to 210kg of down-pressure available, the parallel-linkage twin-disc coulters are the lightest in the Great Plains direct drill range,” said Mr Covell. “We won’t need that pressure for penetration, but it will help the integral press wheel close the slot on heavy ground.”

An electric-drive single rotor metering mechanism – with a choice of rotors for oilseeds, grain and beans – comes with an agitator above to keep the seed flowing, as well as a hopper shut-off slide to make life easier when making changes to the system.

“A great deal of trouble has been taken to get seed delivered into the centre of the airflow for efficient transportation to the large volume distribution heads, which have been purpose-made by Great Plains,” added Mr Covell. “They are bigger than the company’s usual design because we wanted them ready to accept slot-in seed-flow sensors and tramline valves, while also being capable of handling high seed rates and also fertiliser on combined versions, which could either be placed down the spout or separately from the seed.”

The distribution heads have been placed outside the tall, but slim hopper, which provides decent capacity while allowing the drill to fold to a compact size. Sleek panels mask the hardware – but the main novelty is the weighing system designed to be used to automatically adjust pressure to the wing sections as the weight in the hopper diminishes.

“We may also have an option to send a text message alert when the seed level is getting low to help with supply logistics,” said Mr Covell.

Three US-built prototypes are destined for the UK in time for autumn sowing trials, but 4m and 6m production models – followed later by 3m and 8m variants – will be built at Sleaford ready for the 2012 season.

Amazone for all seasons

The GreenDrill is Amazone’s first simple pneumatic seeder for sowing catch crops such as phacelia and mustard from any 4m implement – such as the company’s KE and KG power harrows, the Catros compact disc cultivator or Cenius mulch tine cultivator.

Comprising a poly hopper, metering system, distribution tubes and “splash” plates, the £4,030 outfit also comes with speed-related metering control if required.

Overcoming stony soils

Simple tine drills destined to work on min-till or conventional seed-beds in stony conditions also featured at Cereals, with newcomers from Dale Drills and Carré of France.

The Carré Pentasem is based on the firm’s Pentasol spring tine cultivator with the addition of a 1,200-litre hopper carried on four rubber shock-absorbing mounts.

An RDS Artemis-controlled radar speed-regulated metering system handles rates up to 300kg/ha and distribution heads for the pneumatic seed transportation system are mounted outside the hopper where they are easier to clean and maintain.

Trailing tines along the front of the implement help to stabilise it when working at speed, said Carré engineers, while also levelling the tilth ahead of tine coulters arranged in three for generous soil and trash clearance.

A straight tine levelling harrow and solid rubber press wheels complete the implement, which is available in five sizes – from 3.5m to 6m sizes – through Willow Farm Machinery.

Direct and min-till sowing specialist Dale Drills has added a more conventional seeder to its range – the Mounted Tine Drill (MTD) – which is aimed at plough-prepared and trash-laden seed-beds, but with the potential to direct drill into stubbles on lighter soils.

Available in five tractor-mounted sizes from 3m to 8m, the MTD has purpose-made tine coulters set at 125mm spacing in three rows. The winglet coulters, which were attached to single-leaf springs, are designed for low draft and even depth control.

Seed held in a 1,200kg hopper is metered and distributed by the familiar Accord pneumatic system, with a hydraulic motor driving the fan. An RDS radar provides the speed input necessary to maintain the required sowing rate.

Min-till focus for Seedflex

The new Seedflex coulter assembly, comprising a double disc opener and press wheel mounted on parallel linkage, has already featured on a number of Kuhn drills, including the CSC 6000 power harrow-based outfit with front-mounted hopper.

Providing up to 45kg pressure to the slightly offset discs, the coulter design is intended for work in min-till as well as ploughed seed-beds worked down by the HR 6004 DR folding harrow.

The front hopper, with capacities to 2,000kg, incorporates the Venta electric-drive metering and pneumatic distribution system, regulated by a Kuhn Quantron S controller, which provides manually-adjusted sowing rate and stores up to 200 data sets, including variety, sowing rate and date, etc.

RECO updates Sulky range

Improvements to the Sulky Maxidrill TR and TRW trailed seeders from RECO include the installation of a new metering system first used on the Xeos piggy-back drill.

Proven to work accurately with small seed at low rates, as well as with grain and other cultivars, the electric drive mechanism and pneumatic distribution can provide half-width shut-off and a pre-start function to prime the system ready for sowing. Redesigning the toolbar frame for the two rows of discs that work ahead of the press wheels and single disc coulters resulted in a split-fold (rather than wing fold) configuration that leaves clear access beneath the metering mechanism and hopper.

Compact drill developments

The development of further variations on the compact disc cultivator theme at the event reinforced the enduring appeal of this type of implement for high-speed shallow stubble busting, with the option of adding deeper soil loosening to the process.

While one of the pioneering manufacturers of the latter approach – Sumo – highlighted the durability of its Trio by displaying the first example built in 2003, Dal-Bo revealed its prototype SuperMax combination while Opico presented a scaled-down variation catering for 150-170hp tractors.

The 3m SuperMax has staggered rows of soil loosening tines typically worked 400mm deep to take out compaction followed by two rows of 510mm diameter notched discs.

Carried on individual arms that can be deflected a little against rubber clamp inserts, the discs are designed to level any heave caused by the tines while loosening stubbles across the width of the implement. Leaf spring-mounted scrapers aim to keep them clean.

Next are the interlocking rows of 800mm diameter “T” profile cast rings, which should ensure good consolidation of the resulting tilth on the heaviest of soils.

Hydraulic adjustment of the parallel linkage mountings regulated disc working depth, with pin and hole settings for the leading tines.

He-Va produced a similar implement by bringing together the Combi-lift subsoiler and Disc-Roller cultivator; both implements can be used individually, with either element raised out of work while still coupled or separated and operated individually.

The 2.5m pairing is a smaller addition to the range for growers with sub-200hp tractors.

A rubber curtain contains soil thrown up by the second row of discs, leaving the serrated-ring packer roller to work unhindered.

Horsch opts for 2 into 1

A similar two-implements-forming-one approach has been taken by Horsch – now distributing products through its own UK operation again – by pairing the Joker 3CT disc cultivator with the Mono TG Bar. For tractors of 150-200hp.

Working them as one 3m implement puts a staggered row of spring-loaded TerraGrip tines ahead of the two disc rows. They are capable of working to 300mm if required and, if the 500kg trip is overcome, each tine will clear a 300mm obstacle.

The 460mm diameter discs of the Joker are smaller than usual so rotate faster for a given forward speed to enhance their cultivation effect. Supported by 35mm oil-immersed hub bearings, the discs were carried in pairs rather than individually to halve the number of rubber-suspension arms needed.

Three following packer options were available, all carried on a frame with crank adjustment that regulated the working depth of the discs. A steel disc packer is primarily for heavier soils, the rubber Farmflex unit for lighter ground.

Horsch’s spring steel Rollflex is said to be the most versatile, providing consolidation and a weather-proof surface across different soils.

Cereals 2011