Vaderstad has announced updates at an exclusive press launch in eastern Germany
Vaderstad has announced updates and new models to its drill and cultivator ranges at an exclusive press launch in eastern Germany. David Williams reports.
The Swedish manufacturer is never short on innovation and, as well as the new products, there was exclusive new technology on show. There was also news on trials of new developments for existing machines, such as the Tempo precision drill, first shown in the UK during 2012, and which offers almost total accuracy of seed spacing and placement, even when operating at higher speeds.
The Tempo precision drill has proved very successful with the accuracy it offers even at high work rates proving popular, particularly with those growing large areas of maize. Rather than using a vacuum to hold seed against a rotating metering disc, the Tempo uses pressure and has been shown to be almost totally accurate at seeding rates of up to 28 seeds per second, with seed dropped from the disc blown down a ‘PowerShoot’ by an air blast from the fan. Originally available only in two versions – trailed or mounted – and with up to eight rows, the range has been increased to include wider folding versions up to 12 rows.
The Tempo V is 3-point linkage mounted with a folding frame and it can be easily and quickly converted from 12 rows to eight, in under 40 minutes. As well as the more usual 45 and 75cm row spacings, the design allows row units to be spaced infinitely as required, so odd row numbers, such as nine rows with 600mm spacing can also be accommodated. Coulter pressure of up to 325kg ensures accuracy during high speed work and also means the machine can drill into surfaces from cultivated seedbeds to growing crops.
The Tempo V range includes seven different models, from 6-12 row units and with working widths from 4.2-6.6m depending on row spacing. Seeding depth is manually adjusted, without the need for tools and can be set in 10 steps from 0-10cms. Approximate weight of the latest Tempo is 3.5t, and a tractor of only 120hp is needed, although Vaderstad pointed out that a front weight is required when the drill is used on smaller tractors.
A new seed meter body has been developed, constructed from aluminium, and improvements include an emptying hatch for ease of cleaning between crops. A 16mm seed handling system is standard, but a new larger 22mm sowing system is an option, to handle larger seeds such as pumpkins and large sunflowers, for which the company has noticed a demand.
A new development for the Tempo is a redesigned narrower fertiliser coulter, enabling it to be mounted at 45cm row spacings. Despite its smaller size, it can handle fertiliser rates up to 150kg/ha and it has been introduced mainly in response to demand for use with oilseed rape and sugar beet crop establishment.
Tempo was initially developed for maize and sunflowers, but more recent key development areas include sugar beet planting. Many farms and contractors involved in planting maize are also involved in planting sugar beet, so being able to use the precision drill for both crops helps justify the investment, and should ensure better and more uniform crops of beet than are achieved currently.
The Vaderstad event included a visit to one of many test fields of sugar beet in the area and, despite having planted the crop at 13-14kph, double the speed of an average conventional drill, 95 per cent germination had been achieved at a drilling rate of 105,000 seeds per hectare, with even-sized beet achieved in all the rows. Germany is one of eight countries, including the UK, which has used the Tempo to drill sugar beet this year, and discs for sugar beet are likely to be available to purchase for the 2017 drilling season.
Responding to user demand for combined seed drilling and fertiliser application equipment, Vaderstad has designed and manufactured a front hopper, the first produced by the company. The hopper, in its standard form, holds 2,200 litres, although an extension is available to increase capacity to 2,700 litres. A low loading height means big bags can be easily used for filling, although an integrated front auger filling option is available. The fan is ‘borrowed’ from the Rapid and Spirit drill ranges, so is well proven and reliable, and there is plenty of air volume to feed fertiliser through the large front-to-rear transport tube at a rate adequate to apply 350kg/ha at 15kph. Weigh cells are not currently available, but will be an option in the future, allowing greater automation and accuracy of fertiliser application rate.
Opus options increased
During 2014, Vaderstad launched its all-new trailed Opus cultivator, developed in response to demand for a machine capable of deep working of stubbles but which also offered the flexibility to operate at shallower depths, while still moving soil across the whole working width.
Design features include an open tine layout, followed by staggered leveling discs and a packer, the spacing providing adequate space for large amounts of trash to pass through without blocking. Initially the Opus was available only in 6m and 7m working widths, but demand for the same performance but in narrower working widths has been high, and from October this year, Opus 400 and 500 models, with 4m and 5m working widths will be offered, both as trailed machines.
“Like the original version, the new models can operate between 5-40cms working depth, and the stone release is adjustable up to 700kg break back force,” explained Vaderstad marketing manager for Germany, Maria Redwanz, who was heavily involved with development of the original Opus, and who is pictured explaining features of the machine. “Three rows of tines mean there is 27cm tine spacing which provides plenty of space for straw and harvesting residues to pass through. We have a wide selection of points and shins available allowing it to be configured to operate at any depth and in any soil types and conditions,” she added.
The 80mm MixIn points and shins are standard equipment on the Opus, and are designed to achieve maximum mixing of soil at an operating depth of 8-10cm.
Behind the three rows of tines are adjustable disc-type leveling units, a parallelogram linkage ensuring all leveling units operate at the same angle, regardless of operating depth.
Two different rear packer options are available, and can be easily swapped to suit altering operating conditions. With a U-profile, the double SoilRunner provides a space for soil to accumulate around its profile, so that soil runs on soil, and the whole unit is capable of being tilted to adjust the degree of consolidation achieved. The SteelRunner is an option, recommended for medium to clay soils where a cultivating packer may be required.
The rear packer is easily adjusted so that it can be used to carry the weight of the machine, or run in a floating position, lightly on the surface. The Opus offers a third packer option in that it can be raised completely clear of the ground, or removed altogether, to leave an open surface for maximum weathering.
Seed drill range extended
Described as a ‘trendsetter for future designs’, the new Spirit R 300S and 400S drills certainly look revolutionary. “We have designed them for ease of use, precision of metering and seed placement, and performance,” explained Vaderstad chairman Crister Stark. “We have kept the best elements of the current Spirit, but with a range of excellent new features.”
A single beam from front to rear, on which everything is mounted, means access to all components is unrivalled, and cultivation is achieved with System Disc Aggressive; a set of 45cm conical discs mounted in an X-shape to ensure a level surface ahead of the coulters, and to prevent any tendency to pull to one side.
The new drills, available in 3 and 4m working widths, have a plastic hopper which is said to offer benefits including no corrosion, and great flexibility of design, and despite its 2,800-litre capacity, it has a low loading height for ease of filling by big bags or front loader. An integrated fan, mounted high up on the front of the hopper under a cover and away from dust, provides airflow to carry seed to the coulters.
An all-new metering system has been developed. The Fenix 3 has an electronic drive providing infinite speed control and it uses a soft rubber metering roller which provides a seal between the air flow system and the tank, negating the need for pressurisation, and is capable of regulating rates from 1-500kg of seed per hectare at speeds up to 15kph. Designed for smaller drills, the Fenix 3 is mounted directly below the hopper, and requires no power-consuming venturi to draw seed in to the distribution system. Great flexibility is provided with one metering unit mounted under each side of the hopper, feeding 1.5m of coulters on the 3m version. This provides section control as half the drill can be switched off as required.
Behind the cultivation discs are pneumatic press wheels, mounted in a staggered formation to prevent a wave effect occurring, and to prevent mud-build up between the tyres. The stagger distance is increased over current Spirit drills, and the tyre tread design is an open tractor-type tread for improved self-cleaning. Radial tyres, providing better flexibility, have replaced the previous Cross-ply tyres. At the rear of the tyres is a row of circular rubber blocks, hanging vertically from a mounting bar, which are designed to take out any small ridges which can be created between the wheels.
Seed placement is achieved using a 380mm offset V-disc coulter followed by 380x65mm consolidation wheels and two versions of following harrow are available. A light version with harrow tines on each seed unit or a heavier, more aggressive harrow suitable for both heavier and light soils can be specified and both are adjustable on-the-move.
Upgrades available for the new Spirit R models include control by Vaderstad’s E-Control system, which uses an iPad with a specially designed app to adjust and operate the machine.
A new option, which will be available on all Vaderstad Cereal drills in the future, is the SeedEye seed counting and monitoring system.
No calibration required
A totally new innovation from Vaderstad is the SeedEye, which is a unique seed counting device mounted in the seed tube between the metering system and the coulter.
Because the device counts the actual number of seeds passing though, there is no need for the operator to weigh seed and calibrate the drill, saving time, and errors. The operator simply enters the number of seeds required per square metre onto the control pad, and the machine self-adjusts to achieve the rate needed. No seed weights are required and the drilling rate is maintained regardless of seed quality.
The SeedEye links in to the iPad control system and if the seed coulter feed rate deviates from its preset permitted variation, an alarm will sound and the display will signal a fault, also indicating the seed tube with the problem, so the operator will know immediately if a fault occurs and can take steps to correct the problem immediately. Constant monitoring of all connected seed tubes is maintained, with all tubes shown green on the display while the seeding rate is correct. Crister explained that as there is increased pressure to drill during the hours of darkness, the monitoring system will play an important part in ensuring the drilling operation is successful, warning the driver immediately if anything is wrong.
SeedEye works using infrared light and six optical sensors. When the light beam is broken by a seed passing through it, the sensor records the movement and the total number of breaks is registered and processed, providing accuracy of seed counting within 99 per cent for oilseed rape, and other cereals at between 98-99 per cent, at up to 250 grains per second. The system self-calibrates, allowing for dust and residue which can build up in the sensors.
At the press day, a box of seed, of known quantity was tipped into the hopper of a Rapid drill, and then dispensed through the coulters while the drill was stationary. The resulting seed count through the coulters was within one per cent of the known value, of approximately 8,000 seeds. This compares to accepted accuracy of within five per cent for traditional calibration methods. “Counting seeds is more exact than by calculating quantities based on seed weight,” said Crister. “This system has been developed as a direct response to farmers’ needs to predict total plants per square metre, and is just as accurate when operating on slopes as it is on level ground.”
Because the operator simply sets the number of seeds required per square metre on his iPad, there is no need to climb down from the tractor to perform a calibration test. The drill’s radar constantly monitors drill speed and the E-Control calculates how well the ‘set-point’ for the desired seed volume per square metre agrees with the actual feed value as attained by SeedEye. The feed is automatically adjusted to produce the volume desired. The simplicity of the system means there is no calibration needed either, when moving between crops, as the system is simply counting seeds, so as long as the operator sets the required population correctly on the display, the drill metering system will dispense the required amount.
This system also makes it easy to adjust the volume per square metre, as the operator simply enters the change of target rate on the iPad, by pre-set steps of, for example, 10 per cent. The system works equally well with or without Isobus. Future possibilities from such a system include linking it to field maps for variable rate seeding, simply by entering the desired plant population for different areas of the field.
“The SeedEye provides considerable benefits to farmers and will set new standards for drilling,” confirmed Crister.
Vaderstad’s most successful drill to date, the Rapid, has also gained new features to improve performance and efficiency, and to reduce time required for maintenance. Approximately 23,000 Rapid drills are currently working on farms and Crister Stark said the company believes that this makes the Rapid the most successful drill in current use.
Rapid A 400-800S series models have been updated, and the most obvious change is a new seed hopper with an integrated fan. The fan is located high up, on the front edge, minimising dust intake and wear and tear. The seed hopper is also equipped with integrated work lights, in response to demand from users for features to help operation when there is increased demand for working at night.
Cultivation discs are fitted with new bearings, which are maintenance free and have improved protection against dust and moisture. “Users want to be working, rather than spending time on maintenance,” explained Crister.
The wheel press pivot points are strengthened and the wing packers have gained rubber block suspension, providing up to 100kg of force per packer wheel. Individual suspension provides improved consolidation across the width and helps steady the drill on undulating ground.
Saving time when switching from transport to operating modes, a new hydraulic wing lock allows the drill to be folded and unfolded without the operator leaving his cab.
E-Control and the new SeedEye seed rate control system are both upgrades available for the new Rapid drills, and production of the latest models commences this autumn.