Kverneland launched the first model in a new range of drills at Agritechnica this November following several years of development and trials
Kverneland launched the first model in a new range of drills at Agritechnica this November following several years of development and trials. An all-new design, the ‘U-drill’ has undergone extensive testing to ensure it will perform in all soil types and situations. David Williams visited a UK farmer who has been trying out prototype versions of the drill as it evolved into the unit on display at the show, and which is now available to order.Culford Lodge Farms is based at Ingham, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, and farms approximately 1,100 ha (2,800 acres). The land is a mix of owned and contract-farmed and most of it is very light Breckland soils which, in an average season, allows extended opportunities for field work when many other farms in the area can’t get on the land due to excess moisture. However, when there is a lack of moisture, or when it does become very wet, this very light land can also be a challenge to farm, making it an ideal venue for the Kverneland drill trials.Cropping is mainly oilseed rape and early cereals as well as sugar beet; 90 per cent of the rape and 30 per cent of the cereals established using min-till techniques. “We drill direct into the stubbles when conditions allow,” explains Oliver Stennett, “and after rape we use a Simba Solo on most of the land, ploughing the rest. After cereals we use the Simba on half the land and plough the remainder, depending on conditions. We apply sludge, so will plough that in, and plough for weed control too.”
For the past 13 years the farm has used Kverneland MSC drills for most of the drilling, its current model a 4.8m version. “We have found it suits our land,” says Oliver, “and it will drill direct into the stubble as well as after the plough, but because our land is so light, in a dry year it is drilling onto the plough that is more difficult as the soil lacks the firmness to take much weight and it provides little resistance to the cultivation elements and the coulters.”A power harrow combination drill is occasionally used on the farm, but only late in the season, and mainly on ploughed land after sugar beet. Because only a small area is established this way a drill is borrowed from a neighbouring family farm, but Oliver said the unusually difficult wet conditions late this autumn, during which daily showers have kept the top few centimetres too wet to carry out field work for several weeks, have persuaded him that the farm should invest in its own power harrow drill ready for autumn next year.Local main dealer Thurlow Nunn Standen supplies the Stennett’s Kverneland drills and provides parts and service back-up when needed. “We are looked after well by the dealer, and by Kverneland,” explains Oliver, “and when last year we were asked to try a pre-production version of the new drill we were delighted. In a normal year our land provides more opportunities to test, modify and assess equipment as we are seldom under the same constraints from weather windows as many other farms. The new drill performed well and its design, while retaining many of the good points of the MSC drill, also had additional new features which added to its appeal. In particular its reduced weight is a major benefit to us; it has a new chassis arrangement, and a simpler layout with fewer moving parts. Despite being a wider 6.0m model, it weighs a tonne less than our 4.8m drill.”The U-drill 6000 has a new central chassis and a bolted frame construction making it easier to repair or replace parts when needed. Hopper capacity is 4,350 litres and at present the drill is available only in a 6m working width. For many users the main benefit over its predecessor, the MSC drill, will be the ability to control all main elements separately, everything controlled from the IsoMatch Tellus screen. It is the first drill from Kverneland with fully-programmable headland control, one button used to initiate the headland sequence with the wheels, discs and coulter bar all capable of automatic operation in timed stages.Kverneland says the operator has only to set the markers and wheel track eradicators from outside and then all other settings and functions are set up from the screen.
A pair of new Accord metering devices are used handling a wider range of seed sizes than the metering unit of the MSC, and are easier to calibrate being more accessible and operated by a button alongside.Most of the farm’s drilling is carried out by machinery operator Ross Booty. “It is definitely much easier to pull and, even with its wider working width, we found it required 50hp less on the front. The lower weight is an advantage on our light land, and although drilling after min-till cultivations we can fill the hopper, after the plough we tend to put in just 2t or so of seed at a time. The new drill is more versatile in that all its elements are individually adjustable from the cab so there is less setting up time needed and the new control screen is considerably easier to use. The advantages are that when we get to the field we can get started drilling much quicker, and adjust the coulter depth from the cab making minor adjustments until it looks right, and then just jump out of the cab to make sure the seed depth is as required. Another new feature is that we can adjust the seed rate on-the-move and although we seldom need to change it on our land, it is a useful feature.”We have found its ideal operating speed to be approximately 12.5-13.0kph on our soils as this allows the discs to level effectively resulting in a better finish, plus the speed keeps the drill up out of the soft ground when conditions are very dry,” he adds.The tests last year highlighted several areas for improvement, in particular the coulter discs, says Oliver. “Because the drill was a pre-production model, many parts were hand made and the coulter discs were not as well finished as we were used to on the MSC drill. This meant that the tolerances were not as tight as they needed to be, and we had occasional problems with mud build-up between the discs when working in wetter conditions.”Earlier this autumn Oliver was again approached by Kverneland asking if the company could bring along one of the very first full production specification machines for final testing. “The finish was better and in particular the coulter discs performed well and remained free of soil build-up,” he says. “We had it on the farm for a month or so, during which time we established approximately 160ha (400 acres) of barley and wheat, some of it in wet muddy conditions. Now the crop has emerged and we can see the results we are impressed.””We are not due to update our drill yet but when we do the Kverneland Universal Seeder will definitely be top of our considerations,” says Oliver. “Having had the opportunity to test thoroughly the new drill, we have proved it copes well with our land and, apart from that, we like Kverneland products and the back-up available. As well as our dealer, we get on well with and speak regularly to the Kverneland product manager Graham Owen and our area manager Don Campbell, and their product understanding and knowledge is second to none.”Oliver Stennett (left) with Ross Booty.