Cultivation and drilling equipment continues to evolve to meet the needs of one-pass, strip-tillage, min-till and plough-based systems. Geoff Ashcroft looks at some of the latest choices on the market.
When it comes to seedbed preparation, one size – and type - does not fill all, and the choices currently available to growers are bewildering.
For those looking to improve their soils, reduce their environmental impact, or save on establishment costs, there appears to be a tool out there to do the job. Those looking to carry out restorative cultivations, or adopt a more weather-proof process with traditional plough and power-harrow based systems will not be disappointed, as manufacturers continue to invest in the development of machinery for the task.
Away from mouldboards of different profiles, the plethora of tines, discs, deep loosening legs, coulter options and packer rollers continues to expand.
Amzone’s Cenio 3000 mulch cultivator from Amazone is aimed at the smaller tractor with its shorter format, making the implement easier to lift.
The Cenio retains the three-row tine format of the larger Cenius, but features 300mm tine rows and a maximum working depth of 250mm. The rear levelling discs or paddles, cover the tine action to ensure a level finish before consolidation by roller.
Working widths are 3m, 3.5m and 4m rigid mounted models, and the option of rear roller includes cage, the soil-on-soil UW and DUW rollers, wedge ring and disc roller types.
While the Cenio Special features shear bolt protection for its tines, the Cenio Super uses a spring break-back for overload protection, along with a 450kg trip force.
The 2300S is a new addition to the Kverneland plough range, replacing the popular EG200. In three-, four- and five-furrow builds, the 2300S can be specified with 850mm or 1,000mm point-to-point clearance. Underbeam clearance is increased from 700 to 800cm compared to its predecessor.
Getting access to features found on larger ploughs, the 2300S can be equipped with the optional trailer-transport headstock, allowing the plough to be towed but following the tractor like any other trailed implement.
Pairs of skimmers offer a central point of adjustment, and a revised auto-reset protection system sees spring pressure increased from 1,200kg to 1,700kg. In addition, a hydraulically adjustable depth wheel is available as an option.
Horsch has launched a 3m version of its Focus TD strip-till drill, to encourage smaller operations into strip tillage and sowing.
The 3m model has a steel hopper with 3,500 litre capacity, partitioned at 60:40. In addition, the firm’s MiniDrill with an additional 400 litre capacity is available, extending operational versatility.
The Focus TD uses TerraGrip tines to create a deep loosened strip. This can be replaced with a disc system.
As an additional choice to the TurboDisc double disc coulter, a TurboEdge tine coulter can be specified. Suited to row spacings wider than 250mm, it suits rape or bean establishment, says the company.
The EL Biomulch is a powered, shallow-depth cultivator for the breakdown and incorporation of cover crops, plant residues and organic manures.
Currently available in a 3m working width, the EL Biomulch has been designed to work at speeds of up to 10kph and is suitable for tractors up to 160hp. Its rotor carries 72 blades, each with a 95 degree angle, to provide a full cut across the entire working width at a depth from 30-50mm. Depth control is managed by four adjustable wheels at the front of the machine.
A hydraulically adjustable hood allows management of the finish and a heavy duty gearbox allows rotor speed adjustment to suit the application.
Following the roll-out of three, four and six metre EasyDrills, Sky Agriculture has introduced an eight metre model to the range, sold in the UK by Opico.
Tipping the scales at 10 tonnes, the 8m model maintains the multi-hopper format, offering up to four hoppers to sow products at two different depths, such as grain and fertiliser, or different seed types.
Where the main hopper is split between grain and fertiliser - each with its own pneumatic distribution – the option of up to two separately metered ‘Pro’ hoppers can be integrated, so that seed or microgranules can be introduced through either distribution circuit.
The 8m EasyDrill is IsoBus-ready and supplied as standard with Sky’s Quartz 800 control box. ‘E-Drive’ premium can be specified, offering left and right-hand section control plus electronic row shut-off for individual outlets.
Row spacings are 166mm, coulter pressure can be adjusted up to 250kg, and hydraulic weight transfer can be activated to shift weight between front and rear press wheels.
Demand for a heavier disc-type machine has prompted He-Va to develop the Disc Roller Contour XL. Distributed in the UK by Opico, and intended for primary and secondary cultivations, the Disc Roller XL uses a 610mm Sabre disc - larger diameter than non-XL versions – allowing a working depth of up to 160mm.
The Disc Roller Contour XL is available in rigid and folding formats, covering working widths from 2.75m to 7.75m, and a selection of front tools can be specified, including the firm’s Top Cutter, Shattaboards, Slicerboards and Straw Tines.
Pottinger has extended its range of Terrasem mulch drills with the Classic series.
Without tillage equipment, the Terrasem Classic becomes easier to pull, and its working width extends from four to nine metres. Seed hopper capacity is 3,000 litres on machines up to 6m, or 3,950 litres if the machine is equipped with a hopper extension. Wider 8m and 9m models get a 4,000 litre hopper, or 5,100 litres when equipped with a hopper extension.
The range is also available as a seed and fertiliser drill, which sees all models equipped with a 4,000 litre hopper.
Further versatility is available with the Fertiliser Pro coulter. With hydraulic depth adjustment, this coulter places fertiliser between two rows of seed.
Pasture rejuvenation is the order of the day for Weaving Machinery’s Fenix grass drill. With a 3m working width, the Fenix creates a 75mm row, using a serrated disc to cut through the surface. Electric seed metering, an RDS Artemis Lite controller and a GPS speed sensor takes care of seed rates.
A hydraulically driven fan manages seed transport to the top of the coulter, where 50 per cent of the air flow is released, allowing seed to fall freely into the slot. For those seeking additional versatility, alternate rows can be blocked off, creating a 150mm row spacing to suit cereals or stubble turnips, says the firm.
The front-mounted disc cultivator from Agriweld is available in widths from 4-6m. Complete with hydraulic folding, the 4m unit carries 510mm discs, arranged in two rows of 16 discs.
Discs are mounted in pairs on each axle, and keeping each pair driven is a design said to resist a single disc from stalling.
Each pair of discs is also protected by a rubber suspension unit, with a scraper used to keep the inner side of every disc clean.
Bednar’s focus on high-output establishment continues with the Efecta CE 12m drill. It features a double-chamber pressurised tank with a capacity of 6,000 litres and can be grain-only or grain/fertiliser.
Coulter sections are mounted on side frames using a parallelogram and each coulter uses its own parallelogram frame for contour following, helping to maintain a constant seeding depth. Row spacings can be specified at 125mm or 167mm.
Up to four types of soil cultivation module can be fitted, as can fertiliser coulters. Working speeds are up to 20kph, offering outputs of up to 200 hectares per day, says the manufacturer. Row spacings of 125 or 167mm can be specified.
Drill functionality extends to variable rate control, section control, simple seed calibration, seed library, IsoBus control and seed flow sensors.
Kverneland’s Enduro tine cultivator has been extended with the addition of hydraulic folding models in 4m, 4.5m and 5m working widths.
All Enduro models use three rows of tines, with folding models achieving a 270mm tine spacing to encourage soil mixing and incorporation of residues.
Tine choices include Triflex auto-reset tines with 700kg of release force, or shear-bolt protection versions. Triflex tines also feature a dual working angle, for controlled soil movement, creating deep loosening and shallow mixing capability in one operation.
Enduro Pro models get on-the-move hydraulic working depth adjustment, while the lighter Enduro is manually adjusted with spacers on its hydraulic depth cylinders, ranging from 50-350mm.
The GreenDrill 501 has been developed for catch-crops, small seeds, undersowing and spreading micro-granules, pellets or micro-fertilisers.
Used in combination with either the trailed Amazone soil tillage range or the Cirrus trailed drill combination, this 500 litre capacity, plastic seed hopper comes with electric seed metering, hopper level sensor and a protective hopper sieve.
Interchangeable seed rollers are available for different seed types, and calibration can be via the terminal, its calibration button or the mySeeder App on a smartphone.
Hydraulic blower fan drive handles seed transport, through a distribution head to either sowing coulters or spread plates.
Kuhn Farm Machinery has extended its range of disc-type stubble cultivators with the addition of the Optimer L. Available in 9m and 12m working widths, the hydraulically folding Optimer L has been designed for shallow cultivation at speeds of 13-18km/hour.
Its working depth ranges from 30 to 100mm, suiting crop residue management, stale seedbed creation and fine seedbed preparation, says the firm.
Using two rows of 510mm diameter discs carried on maintenance-free bearings, discs can be specified with small or large notches, to suit shallow or deep working. Underframe clearance of 550mm.
Hydraulic depth adjustment and Kuhn’s Double-U self-cleaning, anti-clogging roller, complete the specification.
ScanStone’s TriStar destoner is available in narrow (1,540mm) and wide (1,740mm) working widths. It uses an open intake with large diameter front discs which are hydraulically controlled.
The key to the TriStar’s performance is its configuration. After the share, soil moves onto a front digger web, followed by three rows of fixed stars that break down clods and help convey material through the machine, and over the webs.
TriStar includes a hydraulically driven scrubber web that rotates over the rear web. The drivne scrubber has varying pressure, speed and direction, suiting heavy clay or light soils, with high stone content.
With ScanStone’s latest control system, the TriStar includes a number of automated functions in a headland management system, including row in/row out functionality, auto stop/start of self-centre steering, activation of depth control, direction changes for the of cross conveyor and activation of the driven scrubber web.
Scotts Precision Manufacturing has boosted the process of windrowing potatoes with a 5.3m cross-conveyor kit that can be retro-fitted onto the Grimme GT170 harvester as a direct replacement for the elevator.
Equipped with side-shift, the five-section conveyor can be folded for transport, and also includes two end sections that can be raised and lowered, to manage the drop height into the valley between two unlifted rows of potatoes.
It allows a maximum of eight, 914mm (36 inch) rows to be lifted without moving the crop twice, providing a useful second life for older harvesters.
Grimme has introduced independent depth control on its GB 430 belt planter, following successful testing in the UK during the 2021 planting season.
With an increasing number of growers considering a four-row harvesting system, the GB 430 four-row planter - which operates on two beds - has recently gained popularity, but has traditionally been suited to flat land scenarios.
On more varied and rolling land, there is a need for greater variation across the openers. And where all four planting openers were linked and would move up and down together on automatic depth control, the new system works as if the machine has two independent planters.
Pairs of openers are linked, and move up and down independent of the other two, still using automatic depth control. This makes the planting depth more consistent on varied land.