Horticultural machinery - Cultivation zone

Next week's Cereals 2015 show is due to present developments in cultivation that will also be of interest to fresh-produce growers, writes Gavin McEwan.

GD Drill: new zero-tillage machine features a disc coulter design that will satisfy all drilling systems
GD Drill: new zero-tillage machine features a disc coulter design that will satisfy all drilling systems

The relentless pace of innovation in the farming machinery world is due to hold its main shop window this week at the Cereals 2015 event (10-11 June) in Boothby Graffoe, Lincolnshire, and as usual there are developments also of interest to arable’s colleagues in fresh produce. The show is lined up to launch Weaving Machinery’s new zero-till drill. With more than 20 years of experience of producing zero-tillage equipment, the introduction of the new GD (Gent Disc) Drill brings a refreshing look to the tried and tested Big Disc Drill.

Weaving Machinery has worked in conjunction with Lincolnshire farmer Tony Gent to develop
the new patented GD coulter and has arrived with a disc coulter design that satisfies all drilling systems. The new GD coulter provides remarkably low soil disturbance, has a very low draught requirement of 40hp per metre and a reportedly excellent service life.

The coulter’s design is based on a double disc arrangement, mounted on a 25° angle off the vertical that is able to pivot around a central kingpin mounted within the coulter body. The larger leading outer disc cuts an opening slice in the soil while the smaller inner disc is in effect undermining the upper side, forming an opening for the seed to be precisely placed.

The lifted wall of the soil is quickly firmed down onto the seed by the single press wheel. The press wheel also acts as a depth regulator for the disc coulters. Drilling depth is adjusted by moving a single pin through a bank of holes with a depth range of 0-130mm in 15mm increments. Coulters are individually pressurised by a hydraulic system providing up to 200kg of downwards pressure, helping to maintain consistent contact with the ground and to follow contours and undulations.

This refined design, aided by an inter-row clearance of 1,000mm, has resulted in a coulter that is able to work in extremely trashy conditions and cover crops without creating an opportunity for hair-pinning to arise. This adaptable system can be used on all cultivation systems and soil types.

The new GD coulter will be available in either a mounted or trailed format. Mounted zero-till machines will be a new addition to Weaving Machinery’s portfolio and will be available in 3-4.8m widths, complete with a 1.2-tonne seed tank. Trailed variants will be offered to meet the demands of large farmers and contractors, available in working width of 4-8m, mounted on a Weaving’s existing 2.5-tonne seed cart.

All drills as standard will be fitted with RDS electronic metering, six coulters per metre at a minimum row spacing of 167mm (adjustable), roll over cover, tank sieve and work lights.

Chisel plough

Meanwhile, Czech manufacturer Bednar’s Terraland TN chisel plough, which is being imported to the UK by Knight Farm Machinery, could help users to protect their soils against wind and water erosion. The machine, which can work up to 65cm deep, offers a viable alternative to ploughing and is proving popular with farmers looking to restructure damaged soils, including those intended for root crops.

Knight Farm Machinery sales manager David Main points out that in early field trials in the UK the machine’s rear roller left a well consolidated and levelled surface pitted with small divots.

"The teeth on the roller produced a very clear pattern of divots. Any rain or irrigation water falling on the soil would collect there rather than run across the surface and have time to percolate into the soil."

He continues: "These divots would also cause eddying of the wind, which would lift the main airstream off the ground, so reducing the surface wind speed and its ability to lift and carry soil particles."

The Terraland is made from high-strength Alform steel, which offers great durability and strength, yet the 3m machine needs only 180-200hp to work. The profile of the cultivating legs has three different operating angles — the first aiding penetration, the second designed to break deep set compaction and the third completing a thorough soil and trash mixing operation before the rear roller consolidates the soil profile.

The legs are set in two rows with a 40cm gap between them. They are hydraulically protected so they trip out of work and reset themselves to avoid stones and buried obstacles without disrupting or delaying work.

While Bednar offers a range of options on all elements of the machine, for the UK the standard equipment will include 80mm chisel points, although 40mm and carbide/hardfaced versions of both sizes are available.

The UK specification also includes Bednar’s hydraulically adjustable double spiky roller for soil consolidation, which is particularly adept at working in stony conditions, and the company’s side shields, which minimise the sideways spread of soil and contribute to the machine’s ability to leave a well-levelled finish.

‘Compact and uncomplicated’ spading machines from the Netherlands

Dutch manufacturer Imants has introduced what it describes as "compact and uncomplicated" spading machines designed for use across a wide range of industries including commercial applications.

Intended for sandy and loamy soils, the 27SX and 33SX series can be fitted with a crumbler roller behind the spade shaft so the primary tillage (spading) and secondary tillage (seedbed preparation) can be done in one pass while also incorporating organic matter if required.

The spader works the soil by means of the spade shaft. On this shaft there are rows, each with a number of spade arms — the number of rows and spade arms depending on the machine and the working width.

With a novel "kinked" design of the spade arms, there are fewer banks and therefore less chance of clogging, so the machine can be operated at higher speed while still giving an even tilth.

The company claims that the format offers growers a reduction in energy use because less tractive force is needed compared with ploughing. And with no furrow, the tractor rides on the topsoil, so reducing the compression of deeper soil layers.

Types 27 and 33 are both driven by a power take-off shaft (540rpm) and are carried by the three-point hitch. The machine is lowered by means of the hitch until the crumbler roller supports a large part of it.

The working depth of the machines can then be adjusted using the position adjuster on the tractor. They come with a quick-change system for the spade blades as standard.

The 27SX series is suitable for 35-70hp tractors, with working widths in the 120-180cm range.

The 33SX series is suitable for 60-90hp tractors and works at 210cm or 250cm widths.

The machines have a working depth of 15-30cm, within which the soil is tilled evenly. As well as field horticulture, they are also likely to be of use in the glasshouse, nursery and green-space management sectors.

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