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Demand for stale seedbeds drives cultivator development

Tillage-Live was well-attended. The event took place in early September at Down Ampney Gloucestershire.

The need for versatile but effective stale seedbed cultivation equipment which is also capable of playing the leading role during preparations for autumn and spring drilling, meant Tillage-Live was well-attended. The event took place in early September at Down Ampney, Gloucestershire. David Williams was there.

There was plenty to see in terms of new kit from ploughs to secondary cultivators and drills and, again this year, straw harrows were creating a lot of interest as wider versions with a larger range of adjustments were on show. For many visitors the event was the first opportunity to see new machines working, since their appearance in the agricultural press, and at shows earlier in the year.


KRM announced earlier this year that it would be importing Agrisem machinery and its stand was busy with visitors keen to see the cultivators working for the first time. The Disc-O-Mulch disc cultivator and Combi-Plough subsoiler were shown at Cereals and technical sales representative for East Anglia, David Wagstaff said sales are going well. “We have been demonstrating the products and they have been well received,” he said. “The Disc-O-Mulch is made for fast, shallow cultivations, so is creating interest in the fight against black-grass. Most of those we have sold have been 3 and 4m versions, but we can supply them up to 12m wide. It can be used on its own or with the subsoiler for heavier cultivations, so is very versatile.”

Shown for the first time by KRM was the Cultiplow, from Agrisem’s medium-duty ‘Gold’ range. It will cultivate down to 35cm and can be supplied with shear-bolt or auto-reset spring protection. A gentle curve on the legs and an offset tip reduce surface disturbance while large winged feet are designed to lift vertically rather than at an angle, reducing the draft requirement. The 3m model displayed has four tines and costs 18,000 with non-stop auto-reset protection or 14,800 with shear-bolts. The seeder is extra. Versions up to 8m working width are available. Pictured with the Cultiplow are KRM technical sales representative for central England, Michael Britton (left) with David Wagstaff.


Claydon launched its Hybrid T direct drill just before harvest, and a limited number of pre-production machines have been working this autumn. It will handle all cereals, and successfully established spring crops during trials earlier this year, and will be used for drilling winter beans this autumn. “The benefits of the extra trash clearance are obvious at a site like this,” explained managing director Jeff Claydon. “It has central wheels, to control the depth which means it adapts well to undulating ground. It has a larger hopper than that of our previous drills, up to 5,000 litres, and will handle seed and fertiliser. We expected to see benefits from the addition of fertiliser during planting but the amount of extra yield surprised us, and that was with fertiliser applied in the band with the seed, or underneath, both of which can be achieved by this drill. The system saves establishment costs and with fertiliser placed where it is needed, then users should be able to reduce the amount applied as less is wasted. With margins getting tighter this is quite a benefit,” he said. Also shown by Claydon was its new 15m straw harrow. Capable of 160ha, (400 acres) of stubble harrowed per day at 18-20kph, Jeff says it provides an effective stale seedbed and is cheap to use requiring very little fuel. Jeff is pictured (left) with Claydon commercial director Spencer Claydon, and the new straw harrow.

 

Operating for the first time in the UK was the Ovlac shallow plough, which had arrived in the country just a few days before and which was shown by UK importer Reco. “We believe it will appeal to organic farmers, but it will also be popular with those who have moved away from ploughing, but are now keen to use inversion tillage as a part of their weed control, particularly with black-grass in mind,” said Reco area manager for the south-east David Parsons. “It has a very low power requirement; just 15hp/f compared to approximately 30hp/f for a conventional plough. This means if a tractor can handle a conventional 4f plough then it should be capable of pulling an 8f shallow plough. It will cultivate down to 8in, but ideally should operate at about 6in, and offers high work-rates.”

The Ovlac shallow plough is available with up to 14f and is available in shear-bolt or auto-reset versions. Pictured with the plough at the event are David Parsons, Reco sales support engineer Richard German and area manager for the south-west Nick Clark. The plough was being set-up ahead of a demonstration planned for the day after the show on a local farm.

 

“Tractors have auto-steer now, we adjust fertiliser application rates during work and use sprayers with automatic section control, so why are we still cultivating the whole field at the same depth?” asks Cultivation Solutions managing director Richard Scholes.

The company was showing its Titan cultivator with automatic depth control at the event. “The objective is to create a field treatment plan or use soil maps to plan in advance what depth to cultivate different areas of the field,” explained Richard. “On a typical Lincolnshire Wold farm, as an example, we can have 12in of soil depth in lower areas and 6in on the higher ground in the same field, but generally it is all treated the same way when it is cultivated. This system, developed by Soyl, allows the cultivator to adjust itself automatically in line with whatever parameters are chosen; soil type or depth, or even from yield maps on the assumption that higher yielding areas will have more trash from the extra crop growth and will require deeper cultivations.”

The Titan uses a set of front discs which, apart from being raised or lowered for work, operate at a pre-set depth, followed by deep loosening legs which are fully adjustable.
A cab-mounted control box allows the cultivator to be adjusted during work, and can be either linked in to the tractor’s guidance system for automatic control from a field plan running Soyl Autodepth, or controlled by the operator using the touch-screen to adjust the cultivating elements manually. “Running from a treatment plan isn’t for everyone,” explained Richard, “so having the ability to control everything manually is desirable.”

The price of the Titan with its adjustable depth control is approximately 12,000 per metre of working width, but that excludes the automatic control which requires ‘unlocking’ at extra cost. “It allows the soil to be treated as a variable commodity,” said Richard, “and offers both fuel and time savings. Used with field maps it provides a record of cultivations carried out, when, where, and to what depth. In a controlled-traffic regime, the cultivator could be programmed to lift the appropriate legs out of the ground when it is working over tramlines. Another application which would save fuel and wear and tear would be on field headlands; There is a tendency for operators to make more passes around the headland than necessary, just to make sure all the land is cultivated at the ends. Used with field mapping, the cultivator would ‘know’ precisely where areas had been missed and would lower the loosening legs just where needed, saving costly double passes with the deep loosening tines. The possibilities are endless,” he said. 


Kockerling area sales manager Chris Boyd reported a busy season and interest at the event in products across the company’s range. However, he said that many new enquiries are from farmers keen to increase their outputs by investing in larger equipment, but also looking for more efficient designs which would allow them to upgrade without having to replace existing tractors. “We have seen demand from farmers using 4m drills, but who want to move to 6m for higher work-rates,” he said. “Our Jockey dril, pictured right, is a good example, using tines and capable of operating with levelling boards, but only needing 35hp/m of operating width in average conditions. It will also work straight into the stubble or on top of ploughed land and, in 2012, we had many reports from farmers telling us they were able to establish crops with the Jockey when other drills just couldn’t work due to the wet conditions. It is available in 6 and 10m working widths as standard, but special builds between these sizes can also be manufactured. It’s a great drill and the performance of the rear press is second to none.”

Chris is pictured with the high specification Ultima precision drill, which he said was also creating considerable interest, offering significant advantages for those looking to optimise planting conditions to maximise quality and yields, for all cereal crops.


The new Seedaerator strip-till drill from McConnell was launched earlier this year. “It is a very simple design which ensures accurate contour following of the coulters which are mounted on parallel linkages,” explained demonstrator Craig Parks, who is pictured with the machine. “Low disturbance leading legs loosen the soil in the seeding zone, and a cleated pneumatic tyre then firms the soil ready for the seed which is placed in the 150mm wide band. This is then consolidated by the rear press wheel and then a harrow levels the surface. The coulters are staggered, but all have the same length mounting arms to ensure even operation across the width.

“Farmers are keen to reduce their establishment costs and we have had considerable interest for drilling all cereal crops, and beans, which it can handle just by swapping the coulter,” he added.
The 3m Seedaerator is priced at 25,000 and Craig confirmed that the company is looking at extending the range to include wider versions.


Pictured at the event celebrating being appointed as a Deutz-Fahr dealer earlier in the week was Simon Barnes of Barnes Agricultural Services with its base at Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire. “We are delighted to have the Deutz-Fahr products to sell,” said Simon. “We like the range, the build quality is excellent and the tractors are geared around the needs of farmers. In our trading area we have many mixed arable and livestock farms as well as some larger arable customers and we also deal with large contracting businesses. This franchise provides us with models to suit all of them. We are very service-orientated, and look after machinery of all ages from brand new to 40 years old or more, and our customers will be delighted that we can supply the range which will fit in well with the other quality brands we represent, including Caterpillar, Amazone and Krone.” Simon is pictured (right) with Deutz-Fahr area sales manager Jason Hoare.  
Opico reported a very good event and said there was interest from farmers across the UK in all its products, and particularly from those farming in the south and south-west of the country.
Opico managing director James Woolway said the He-Va subsoiler-based combined seed and fertiliser drill is proving especially popular. “The He-Va subsoiler has done well again this year and is getting quite a reputation among farmers for economic wear rates of soil engaging parts as well as for the job it does,” he explained. “Applying fertiliser with the Nitro-Jet while drilling oilseed rape continues to be popular as an efficient and reliable method of OSR establishment that minimises  labour and machinery costs at a busy time of year, particularly important with the reduced crop prices we are currently experiencing.

“The two Variocasts on the back of the machine, one for OSR and the other for slug pellets are seeding and applying in one pass, once again reducing establishment costs and ensuring more reliable establishment,” he continued.  The newest product demonstrated as part of the system was the Accu Disc which we launched at Lamma. This is the double disc coulter bar and press wheel on the back of the Subsoiler, and rather than band-sowing the OSR by distributing it in front of the press roller and in line with the subsoiler legs we have developed the Accu Disc to effectively drill the OSR in line with the subsoiling legs behind the roller on pre consolidated ground.

“This gives more consistent seed depth which in turn gives better and more even establishment than existing till-seeding methods while maintaining the practical economical approach to establishing OSR. This has had an excellent take up from farmers up and down the country this year and we expect it to be a good product for us in 2015 too,” he added.Horsch shared its stand with local Agco dealer Lister Wilder and John Deere dealer TAG, with representatives and tractors from both companies on the stand demonstrating products. The Joker 6 RT was launched at Cereals and was the main attraction in the Horsch demonstration area. Trailed, and with a hydraulically-controlled levelling board and a double packer it was making a good job of the stubble, producing a level finish. Horsch UK general manager Stephen Burcham said the versatility of the new Joker makes it very attractive to farmers; able to operate at high speeds producing a tilth in the top few inches of the soil for early stubble cultivations, or to operate deeper down to 4-5in for secondary cultivations after ploughing, the front levelling board smoothing the surface ahead of the discs.

A longer frame provides an extended space between the front and rear rows of discs allowing the soil to settle between, and also allows the fitting of the rear double packer roller. The transport wheels are centrally positioned which means that when raised, their weight is carried directly over the tillage elements, eliminating bouncing which could occur with earlier versions on which the wheels were raised out at the rear. The Joker 6 RT will be available this autumn, and the front levelling board is an option for 5, 6 and 8m versions


Vaderstad cultivation equipment and drills were working on the combined TH White, New Holland and Case IH demonstration area. “Everyone loves dealing with Vaderstad,” explained TH White Marlborough area sales manager, Simon Knight; “The quality of the products, the rugged construction and the back-up available means customers and our dealer staff all enjoy being involved with the brand.”

Simon said the Rexus Twin and Carrier cultivators are particularly popular with his customers; “Years ago, on our hilly land we didn’t have the power or traction to use the Rexus Twin to its best advantage,” he explained, “but now with our modern tractors which handle it easily it is a superb piece of equipment which does an excellent job. The Carrier cultivator is ideal on our land too. We have a lot of light chalky land with some steep slopes as well as heavier patches, and with agronomists recommending shallow cultivations in the area the Carrier allows farmers to get going straight behind the combine and achieve a good chit in their stale seedbeds with high work-rates. We can supply versions up to 12m wide but we sell mostly 5, 6 and 8m models.”

TH White represents New Holland and Case IH brands from its network of branches, the Marlborough depot handling New Holland. “The new T7 and T8 tractors are proving popular, with their Adblue-equipped engines supplying superb fuel economy, and customers are reporting significant savings, particularly from the latest models,” he said. “We are busy with enquiries and sales, and our T9 demonstration tractor is going straight from here to a farm, complete with the Vaderstad TopDown on the back for a combined demonstration, and we have a T8 going straight to a farm too. It is a busy autumn,” he said. Simon is pictured with the Carrier 500 which was working at the event.

 

Shallow ploughing is well-established on the continent and interest from growers in the UK, who are keen to invert soil and bury trash during cultivations, but who don’t want to go back to full depth ploughing has encouraged several companies to add the ploughs to their range of cultivation products. Particular interest is from organic farms, where inversion tillage forms a key part of their weed and disease control regimes. On the Ryetec stand the Bugnot shallow plough was at work. The plough was displayed at Cereals this year, but recent improvements to the range include trash boards and skimmers to bury trash more effectively. Ryetec director Mark Harrison (above) said; “Everyone is looking at costs and shallow ploughing allows growers to achieve more or less the same job as a conventional plough but much faster and with reduced fuel consumption. Obviously we are not ploughing as deep, and the plough is more of an inversion cultivator. It takes very little setting up and is available with 5-11f.” The 8f reversible model shown is priced at approximately 25,000. New Holland recently launched its telematics packages, which allow monitoring of machinery operations from anywhere, via the internet. The Tillage Live event allowed potential users to gain an insight into what is available from the manufacturer, and a demonstration of the system in action was provided by a large screen displaying the locations and statuses of tractors at the Tillage Live event as well as of New Holland’s demonstration combines which were in the north of England. “The goal is to reduce input costs and the system is especially useful for those running larger tractors and combines, where fuel costs are most significant,” explained New Holland product specialist for precision farming equipment Jonathan Riley. “Owners can see how machines are being used, how productive they are, and can also use the system to keep track of servicing requirements. Interest has been from existing users wanting to retro-fit the system to existing machines, particularly for combines where there is the most obvious advantage.

“It was something our customers have been waiting for but we didn’t want to release it until it was completely right. It is user-friendly, capable of running on all sorts of devices and systems and it is very intuitive; no manual is needed for the basics. Customers have come along today to find out about it and seeing it in action allows them to assess the benefits it would offer them,” he said.

TH White precision farming specialist Andrew Collier looks after products from both Case IH and New Holland. “I believe most demand will be from combine users,” he said, “We sell a lot of larger CR models and it will be a particularly popular management tool. Since the availability of the system has been known we have had a lot of enquiries, particularly from larger farms and this has been from users as well as owners. We were involved in customer research into what was wanted, and not wanted, while CNH was working on the system, and they have got it right before releasing it. One of the main concerns was privacy, users worried about who would be watching their activities and why, but the policy from CNH is that the machine owner owns all the data, and no-one else can access it without their authorisation. This has proved popular and reassured owners, and users of the machines.” Pictured with New Holland’s display are (l-r) Jonathan Riley, Andrew Collier and Case IH Advanced Farming Systems product marketing specialist Ross Macdonald.

 

The all-new Cayron plough was announced by Amazone in 2013, with many unique features, 16 of them protected by the company’s patents. For most, the Gloucestershire event was the first opportunity to see what it could do, and how it differs from the many other brands available. “Everyone wants to see it at work,” said Amazone UK brand manager Simon Brown. “It has many unique features and is designed for ploughing at higher forward speeds for maximum output while still burying the trash effectively and capable of operating in all soil types. It has gone down very well with our dealers so we are under pressure to get demonstration machines to them as quickly as possible, and these are due to arrive in the coming weeks although a very limited number have been built for this autumn. Initially we will be delivering 200-series 5 or 6f ploughs with hydraulic or manual variable furrow width and, long term, we aim to offer ploughs from 4-8f.”
Kverneland tillage product manager Adam Burt is pictured explaining features of the Kultistrip strip-till cultivator to a group of interested farmers. The 3m cultivator shown working was a pre-production model, and wider versions are under development which fold for transport. The 3m model has six parallelogram-mounted cultivation units each featuring a front opener disc followed by a deep loosening tine, capable of operating down to 300mm, and offers the flexibility to adjust row spacings from 370-750mm.

An independently-adjustable fertiliser placement tine allows precise application to suit the crop.
“Most interest in the Kultistrip currently is from farmers wanting to achieve a one-pass cultivation system before precision drilled crops such as maize, sugar beet and oilseed rape,” explained Adam.


First seen working the week before Tillage Live at the Norfolk-based Normac cultivations demonstration, the Beaver 12m trailed stubble rake from Quivogne was doing an impressive job in the company’s working area. Narrower 6 and 9m mounted versions are also available and all share the same rugged design using 3m tine sections, attached by heavy-duty leaf springs to the frame.

“The individual mounting design means the groups of tines follow ground contours easily,” explained Quivogne UK marketing director Ben Clowes. “They provide suspension, and maintain consistent pressure so it does a thorough job of mixing the soil, seeds and trash for a stale seedbed. The tine angles are adjustable too, so the user can select the degree of action needed, and an option is hydraulic adjustment of all the sections at once, in place of the standard manual adjustment, from the cab. Build quality is excellent and potential customers can quickly see that the Beaver is designed to cope with high speed operation over wheelings and ruts. Although the job it is doing is light cultivation, it has to be built to withstand demanding use,” he explained.

Ben is pictured with the 12m Beaver which is priced at 38,000.

Knight first showed Bednar cultivators, for which it is the official UK importer, during 2013 and sales manager David Main said the arrangement is proving very successful, with the products complementing Knight’s existing range, including the Raven.
“The 5m Swifterdisc has been the most popular to date, and we have had many requests for demonstrations, resulting in high sales,” he said.
At Tillage-Live, the company was demonstrating its Fenix model for the first time. “It is very versatile,” explained David. “It works effectively from 2-14in deep with its chisel point and wings ensuring everything is moved, even during very shallow cultivations. In good conditions it is capable of producing a seedbed in just one pass, and we have had a lot of interest and demonstration requests at the event so this 3m mounted model and our 4m trailed versions will both be busy in the coming months,” he said.

 

An innovative straw rake equipped with a row of discs in front of the traditional tines was working in Mzuri’s demonstration area. “The discs are individually mounted so they follow ground contours accurately and maintain the desired angle,” explained Mzuri director Martin Lole. “The soil is lifted by the discs and thrown into the harrow tines leaving a level surface, and combining the disc and rake action means we ensure all weed and volunteer seeds as well as slug eggs are moved. The discs cut in to 30mm or so, and we end up with an overall layer of loose tilth to about 5mm. The Rezult rake (above) has been available since late summer in a 7.5m working width at a cost of 13,650 for the tine rake only, or 19,115 with the discs. “It complements our range of drills, and we believe it will be very popular,” said Martin.  
Also displayed by Mzuri for the first time at the event was a Rehab low-disturbance subsoiler with a disc assembly from a Mzuri direct-drill behind. The subsoiler, with a leading disc to create a slit and cut through trash, loosens the soil profile and is followed by the disc coulter assemblies. “The oilseed rape is drilled into an almost perfect environment to encourage lateral root growth,” said Martin Lole. “After the subsoiler has loosened the ground the tilled zone is re-cultivated immediately creating an ideal seedbed to a consistent depth, and the strip tillage effect conserves moisture allowing the rape to get away fast. Trials in Poland with the system have resulted in significant extra yields and it works just as well for cover crops. The crop is drilled properly and the seed area consolidated perfectly.”
The combined subsoiler drill doesn’t yet have a name; Martin (right) is welcoming suggestions, but the price is 13,650 including the Stocks seeder unit.


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