Norfolk demo day launches new Proceed drill

On a dry April day in Haddiscoe, Norfolk, the team at Ben Burgess, together with a contingent from Väderstad, staged a working demonstration day of Väderstad drills and tillage machinery. Machinery editor Neale Byart was there.

Ben Burgess Norfolk demo day

A number of machines were put through their paces, including the 6m Spirit seed drill and the well-known Tempo, which was drilling maize on the day. The team also demonstrated a 5m Top Down combination cultivator with newly-added E-Services.

At the top of the field, the 12.4m NZ Extreme – one of the biggest cultivators available – was put to work, pulled by a John Deere 8RX, while a Cultis HD425 cultivator performed well in the damp soil.

A Carrier XT625 disc cultivator was also in operation.

However, it was Väderstad’s prototype Proceed 6m drill which really got the attention of those attending.

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Vaderstad Tempo seed drill
The well-known Tempo was drilling maize on the day.

Väderstad sales and marketing manager, Andy Gamble, discussed the various machines being put to work at the event: “The Tempo is a market leader in the UK, due to the fact that it’s a faster and more accurate planter.

“The NZ Extreme 12m seedbed cultivator was launched a couple of years ago, but is already proving itself in the field.

“The Top Down may not be new, but now our E-Services technology has been added. This is quite revolutionary, as it’s the first time we have put electronics on a cultivator, which allows you to map depths around the field, and it will alter the depth as you go, according to the map. This means, for example, that you can have deeper headlands or tramlines and it will adjust automatically for complete depth control.

Vaderstad NZ Extreme seedbed cultivator
A 12.4m NZ Extreme was put to work, pulled by a John Deere 8RX.

“You also still have manual control from the cab, so if you think there is a hard spot, you can override the auto function and manually change the depth – without leaving the cab. Before, the operator would have had to get out of the cab and manually adjust the depth with spacers each time a change was needed.”

Andy went on to explain: “Although we don’t bring out lots of new products, when we do we like it to be revolutionary. With the Tempo we couldn’t just build a new model – it had to be better and faster. The Proceed is another example of Väderstad pushing the boundaries. It allows us to use a Tempo unit at 250 row spaces for precision drilling. By doing this, trials have indicated that seed and fertiliser rates can both be reduced by around 30%.”

Introducing the Proceed

Väderstad regional sales manager Nick Tinker explained some of the details and technical specs of the new Proceed: “It’s basically two Tempo TPVs hung under a main frame with a metering unit straight off the Tempo, but with a central fill that allows it to drill pretty much anything.

Vaderstad Proseed drill prototype
Väderstad’s prototype 6m Proceed drill was the star of the event, with farm scale trials looking promising.

“From the central storage, the seeds are fed into a chamber where there are no electronics. The seed is carried by air down to the standard Tempo unit where it enters the back of the planting unit and is fed around to the seed pipe. The same air pressure then fires it down the pipe.

“The Tempo was originally developed for sunflowers but was then trialled with maize, sugar beet, OSR, peas and beans. Logic then dictated that we moved on to cereals. Once we had trialled it with a Tempo and proved it worked, we were happy to build it into the Proceed. Run as it is shown today, with everything on the ground, we could drill 22.5cm rows across the full 6m width of the machine. If you wanted to use it for maize or sugar beet, and you wanted 50cm rows, you can lift one bank out to operate it more like a traditional Tempo.” Although only currently available in a 6m version, there is a 12m model in development.

Following testing, Väderstad recommends a power requirement in the 240–250hp range.

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“To use it for fertiliser you would need to add a front hopper, and we are currently using bits from other machines for that,” commented Nick. “In fact, anyone who knows their Väderstad equipment will notice that many of the parts used on the Proceed are used elsewhere in the range. The wheel frame is from a Carrier, the beam from a Top Down, there are two Tempos and the wheel packer features on a Rapid.

“The benefit, of course, is that all the parts are tried and tested. The Tempo has been around for 12 years, so we have every confidence in this new machine.

“The hopper size is currently 2,200 litres, but that may change. The 12m version will need a larger hopper, but you need to be mindful of the tractor on the front and the weight distribution.

Vaderstad combination cultivator
The team demonstrated a 5m Top Down combination cultivator with newly added E-Services.

“All disc drills need weight, which is why they are heavier than tine drills, but the benefit of that is that disc drills are generally more accurate at maintaining a consistent depth.

“The holy grail of drills is to be able to precision plant cereals and, although others have done it before, the output is historically quite slow. However, with the Proceed, speed is not an issue as air pressure maintains full control over the seed without any effect from gravity, slopes or vibration.

“There is still some ongoing development, but primarily this is in relation to the cosmetics. Farm scale trials have been conducted around Europe and enough crops have gone through it that we know that any design weaknesses have already been addressed and resolved,” Nick concluded.

Resounding success

Speaking to Farmers Guide post-event, Ben Burgess area sales manager, Ben Conway, commented: “Amid the challenges of coordinating logistics and ensuring the security of high-value equipment, our event was a resounding success. We extend our gratitude to the local farming family who provided a secure storage solution, safeguarding our Gen 4 & 5 screens and receivers.

“Our marketing team’s efforts and strategic social media presence culminated in a turnout of 200 potential clients – a result we are pleased with considering the late spring and recent inclement weather. The calm, bright, and dry day was ideal for showcasing our Väderstad machinery, including the premiere of the E-Services enabled 5m TopDown and the formidable 12.4m NZ Extreme.

Vaderstad Cultis cultivator
A Cultis HD425 cultivator performed well in the damp soil.

“The 6m Tempo TPV drilling maize, along with the Cultis and Carrier XT cultivators, demonstrated their efficacy on a diverse 27ha field, kindly provided by Sentry Ltd. The event concluded with robust customer engagement and a swift order for the Carrier XT. We are immensely thankful to everyone who contributed to making the day a triumph.”

Hydraulic front disc depth control

Alan Coleman, a local contractor from Norfolk whose main enterprise is large square baling using a pair of Krone Big Pack 4×4 machines attended the day with his son. “We have had John Deere products in the past through Ben Burgess, although right now we are running Fendt,” commented Alan.

“We do have a Väderstad 4m Rapid drill, which replaced a rigid tine Vaderstad, and we are very happy with its performance. In fact, we can’t fault it. The hydraulic front disc depth control was a great feature. We use it on around 40–60 hectares. We are here just to have a look around today, with no specific plans to upgrade at this time.”

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Better levelling ability

Rob Raven is a mixed farmer and farm manager on the Norfolk/Suffolk border with responsibility for around 2,800ha including combinable crops, potatoes, sugar beet, cattle and sheep. Rob is currently using a Väderstad Top Down and a Spirit drill and attended the event to take a look at the NZ Extreme, with a view of replacing a few older spring tine cultivators with one new one with better levelling ability.

Rob also currently runs a Horizon direct drill, a Dale tine drill and a Horsch CO. “Because I work across different farms, each come with their own kit and each with different land types. We have to deal with a fair bit of heavy land that requires direct drilling, but we also have some light land where conventional cultivation is needed. The weather this year has been challenging, but we are managing. We have finished spring drilling and what we have put in is coming up nicely. Autumn planting was challenging, and we didn’t get as much in the ground as we wanted – but it’s all been replaced now, and we are reasonably pleased with how it’s going.”

Moving into environmental schemes

Tony Watson and Sharon Wright farm next door to the demo day location, growing 160ha of maize, rye, barley and wheat, but are scaling down and moving more into environmental schemes under the SFI.

They are not currently using any Väderstad equipment but are customers of Ben Burgess through its John Deere dealership, and were attending to have a look at the range and see them in operation. “We are keen to have a look at the Top Down, as that is the sort of equipment that would suit our usage,” commented Tony.

Potential farm performance

Farmer Harry Williams and his partner Daisy Highland travelled up from Stonham, Suffolk where they work around 160ha of cereals, sugar beet and OSR. The main purpose of their visit was to see a demo of the Carrier, although the lighter soil at the demo site was possibly the wrong type to get a true representation of its potential performance on their farm.

Vaderstad and Ben Burgess team
Members of the Väderstad and Ben Burgess teams are pictured after the well-attended event, which generated plenty of interest and orders.

They have run a Väderstad mounted box drill in the past, but are currently operating a Weaving Sabre tine which they are generally happy with; although when they experienced a dry harvest in 2022, it struggled to deal with the straw that hadn’t mulched.

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