Machinery News

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Popular open days launch new products and allow exchange of ideas

Drill specialist Claydon’s annual open days, held near to its south Suffolk machinery manufacturing facility attract visitors from across the UK

Drill specialist Claydon’s annual open days, held near to its south Suffolk machinery manufacturing facility attract visitors from across the UK, as well as from abroad, users making the most of the opportunity to swap ideas on techniques to optimise results, and potential users keen to discuss experiences and decide if the system will suit their particular situation. David Williams was there to learn about the latest innovations.Claydon drills awaiting dispatch. The company is investing heavily to meet demand. When Jeff Claydon, a Suffolk farmer, designed and manufactured his first direct drill 11 years ago, his objective was to make establishment of the cereal crops on his heavy land farm as quick and easy as possible. Always an innovator, he was primarily a farmer, and the drill business very much an add-on, a small number of drills produced in the farm workshop for other farmers mainly in the East Anglian region. The company’s drills have been improved and developed over the years, to suit all land types with features making them more efficient and easier to use They are in use in all regions of the UK, as well as abroad, and Jeff’s farmyard is now a very busy manufacturing facility.Increasing fuel prices in recent years have encouraged growers to look for less energy-intensive methods of establishing crops, while the need to carry out cultivations and drilling more quickly, taking advantage of limited weather windows, has also led to more farmers looking at alternative methods of crop establishment. As a result, interest in direct drilling and strip-tillage has increased, most drill manufactures now offering some form of direct drill within their ranges. “Direct drilling is a well-established technique now,” explains Jeff. “When we started making drills they were rather a novelty and one didn’t often see them in use, now they are well accepted.”The benefits in terms of timely drilling and reduced costs  are very attractive, but when one looks at results achieved through using the drills, in terms of improved soil condition and higher yields achieved, then they really are a sensible investment. Lessons continue to be learned each year in terms of getting the best establishment depending on soil conditions and weather, so our open days are considered very useful by users who can talk about their experiences, compare results and find out how others have overcome any problems and made improvements,” he adds.Demand for its drills, and other products added to Claydon’s range in recent years has resulted in significant expansion, and the number of production staff employed has risen from 10 to 22 in the past year. The company is represented by five agents in the UK and nine overseas, and there are now more than 500 of its drills operating in 18 countries, from Northern Europe to as far south as Spain and Greece. Since its early days of manufacturing, constant investment in its premises has been needed to keep up with demand and a large construction project is in progress to provide much needed space as well as a brand new paint facility.New combined seed and fertiliser drill
New products on show included an option to apply fertiliser while drilling, the fertiliser placed in the tilled zone where it is available to the growing crop, rather than across the full drilling width. Jeff explained that this makes best use of the fertiliser, as it is applied only where needed, the 50 per cent of ground that isn’t cultivated not receiving an application. “We have seen a demand for this method of fertiliser application in the UK, but also throughout Europe and especially in Germany where our drills are proving popular..”Claydon used its open days to show its first combined seed and fertiliser drill which is due to be officially launched at Cereals. Pictured is the 3m version with a new split 1,500kg hopper.Three options for placement are available; at the rear of the leading breaker tine, which is the standard arrangement and allows the fertiliser to be placed 75100mm below the seeding zone; down the back of the seeding tine; or placed on the surface above the drilled seed. The smaller 3m Hybrid drill can be supplied with a split hopper with capacity for 750kg in each side,” explained Jeff. “The hopper is mounted well forward to keep the weight close to the tractor, and two individual metering units are used so the rates of application of the seed and fertiliser can each be varied to suit the situation. We have had a pre-production machine in use in Germany through the spring and its performance and the results have proved excellent.For the larger drills; 4.0, 4.8 and 6.0m, a front-mounted 1,250kg hopper has been developed from which fertiliser is blown through to a second distribution head on the drill. The new front hopper can also be used for extra seed, extending the area that can be drilled between fills.The front hopper holds 1,250kg of fertiliser.For liquid fertiliser application, Claydon is offering three sizes of front tank; 1,000 litre fibreglass, and 1,500 and 2,000 litre steel versions.The application rate for solid fertilisers is set using the drill’s RDS Artemis electronic controller so no separate control system is required. If liquid fertilisers are used then a separate control box is needed. Using the Artemis controller, application rates from as little as 2450kg/ha can be applied.Micro-fertiliser application system
For micro-granular fertilisers Claydon is offering a specific micro-fertiliser application system, a modified Stocks Rotor Meter used to meter the fertiliser into the seed flow. The rate is controlled either by the drill’s Artemis system, the Stocks’ Wizard controller or a simple Vari-Speed system.Hutchinson technical manager Dick Neale was at the open day to talk about the advantages of fertiliser placement while drilling. “We know that using the traditional application methods nitrogen is only 4060 per cent efficient with a significant proportion unavailable when it is needed. We have to be cleverer about what we do, rather than just throwing more material at it,” he said.Traditionally starter fertilisers have been N:P liquids or MAP/DAP granular; rates of 1840kg/ha of N are applied and 4060kg/ha of P. They are bulky and corrosive and because direct contact with germinating seed is detrimental, separate plumbing systems are needed for application. Nitrogen is highly mobile, there is rapid uptake and it produces soft leafy growth. Phosphate is immobile, but desirable at establishment, but limited root growth and separate placement reduces use efficiency.”Dick explained that trials with Primary-P, a placement micro-granular fertiliser containing 10 per cent nitrogen, 40 per cent phosphorous, 11 per cent sulphur, and 2 per cent each of zinc and magnesium, have shown more consistent establishment during trials at Hutchinson’s Brampton Oilseed Rape trials site, in terms of more even growth with fewer gaps. “Even this year, when establishment was very slow, comparative trials showed significant advantages,” he said. “Balanced nutrition is essential and with optimal levels of nutrients available when needed during early stages of growth, there is the potential for significant extra yield. The surface area of micro-granules is up to 300 times greater than that of an equivalent application of standard fertilisers so it is immediately accessible.”Twin Tine option for wettest conditions
During a year in which all crop establishment systems struggled, Claydon developed a new Twin Tine option for the Hybrid drill to cope with the wet conditions. The traditional Claydon drill layout is a leading chisel tine which breaks up a narrow band of subsoil and creates a slot ahead of the single ‘A’ blade tine, which runs directly in line with the leading tine and lifts the soil creating a tilth. Behind this the seeding boot injects a band of seed, after which levelling ‘Ski’ boards cover and press. The standard ‘A’ blade is 17cm wide and suitable for most seed types, but there are also 7.5 and 12cm options for smaller seeds and wetter conditions. Row spacing is typically 30cm with a 12cm gap between each band left uncultivated.Claydon has developed the Twin Tine to cope with very wet conditions.The new Twin Tine wet weather kit has two staggered seeding tines running 75mm to either side of the slot created by the leading tine and seed is spread in two 30mm wide bands. “The advantage of the new Twin Tine kit is that the two tines create a fine tilth to surround the seed, and working shallower than the lead tine, they create a ‘shelf’ either side of the channel onto which the seed is spread.The slot creates an effective drainage channel and ensures that as the plant grows the root system has unimpeded access to create a deep root structure while using narrow tines means the drill will operate in heavy sticky soils without smearing or pulling up large clods,” explained Jeff. “Thanks to the strip-till technique and the fact that the drill leaves an uncultivated strip between each seed row, this helps support the weight of the tractor and the drill, while being fully-mounted with no disc or packer wheels the drill has excellent clearance and avoids the risk of blocking due to mud build-up. With the new wet weather tine kit, the drills are capable of operating in conditions which for other drills would prove extremely difficult,” he added.The Twin Tine kit can be retro-fitted to any of Claydon’s Hybrid drills, and Jeff said its availability extends the flexibility of the company’s drills for spring drilling as a fine tilth is created to surround the seed promoting quick germination and early growth.Extended toolbar options
Also shown at the open day were new rear toolbar options, which the company said were designed to overcome problems encountered during last autumn’s difficult drilling conditions. Previously the choice was either batter boards or spring harrow tines but to cope with more extreme working conditions, there is now the option of a second tool bar which allows combinations of tools to be used; batter boards followed by spring harrow tines, or two sets of harrow tines.  The double toolbar will be standard on the split hopper seed and fertiliser drill and available as an option on other models.For those on very light land press rollers are now available to ensure optimal seed to soil contact and improved moisture retention.Also shown was another new accessory for 2013, pre-emergence markers, which have not previously been available. The new Claydon markers use double-acting hydraulic rams, allowing the operator to increase pressure if necessary for use in harder ground conditions.With the open days held in East Anglia, black-grass was sure to get a mention and Agrii trials manager Steve Corbett (left) was at the event discussing trials work carried out by the company investigating the effect various establishment techniques have on black-grass populations. Trials have been in progress at Stow Longa in Cambridgeshire for approximately eight years and Steve explained that the site was chosen due to its history of black-grass being a significant issue there, with high populations and increased resistance to herbicides. In 2010 there were more than 500 ears/m2 in one field, and whereas in 2008 Atlantis (mesosulfuron + iodosulfuron) provided 97 per cent control, by 2012 this had reduced to 35 per cent.Resistance to herbicides has meant increased use of cultural control methods and trials have focussed on different cultivation timings and techniques, as well as cost-effectiveness of the operations.Steve commented that after three years of trials on land for winter wheat a plough in the system had reduced black-grass numbers, but ploughing for a second year was too soon for effective control as resistant black-grass seeds were returned to the surface. “Poor ploughing is of little help as if the soil is not completely inverted, and the surface sealed, then the black-grass will grow up between the furrows.” He explained that continual ploughing had been shown to reduce black-grass numbers but that establishment costs were higher. With regard to overall gross margins, he said direct drilling systems can provide the best gross margins as long as a good stale seedbed was achieved, and that the ‘chemistry sets’ were well-timed with resistance not an issue.His conclusion was that ploughing for 2nd wheat, then establishing the following two years of crops; oilseed rape and then 1st wheat with the Claydon drill, had been shown to be one of the best options so far.Slug business
DeSangosse commercial manager Simon McMunn gave a presentation on slug control and started by saying that this season slugs have been an issue almost everywhere, including on lighter land. He suggested that monitoring populations using slug traps ahead of drilling will enable growers to assess the extent of any problem and to begin control before panting.He explained that cultural control methods during seedbed preparation include destroying the ‘green bridge’ which provides food and shelter with a tool such as the Claydon Straw Rake. If slug populations are still not adequately managed then further cultivations might be necessary to destroy and expose the eggs to the surface where they will dry out. Producing a fine seedbed will help, as well as rolling if possible.With regard to chemical control he suggested that growers select good quality pellets; “Remember, when buying slug pellets that you are buying bait which has to attract the target to it,” he stressed. “Pellet quality is key to successful control. The pellet has to remain effective until it is consumed and size is important. Small pellets have a large proportion of surface area exposed to the air and the ground and this means they degrade more quickly. Larger pellets remain viable for longer which is important to the success of the treatment. The objective is to control the slugs to get the crop past the critical stage, so pellet viability is important.”

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