“For us it’s all about flexibility with seedbed production, drilling dates and tractor availability,” explains Tim Spurrier from the 850ha Lincolnshire farm. “We want to make the most of all our available resources and that includes our rotation, the sprays and fertilisers, plus organic matter. It’s all about making informed choices with how we produce crops, and how we make the most of weather conditions.”
The change of drill coincided with a refocus on tractor power, which saw a 300hp frontline model removed from the fleet, and a six-furrow mounted plough was replaced by a five-furrow ED 85/300. A 200hp Fendt 720 handles the heaviest work, with a smaller Fendt 516 and two Fendt 514 models in support. “We’re now modestly powered, with wide tyres too, and this has reduced our running costs and improved the way we manage compaction across all our soils,” he says. “And this was an important consideration when it came to the drill.”
Both he and operator Tony Steels (pictured) were sceptical that the 6m u-drill could be comfortably handled with only 200hp, but with a full width front packer roller, the drill sits on top of the soil. “It really does pull easily,” says Tony. “Not only that, but the Kverneland u-drill sits flat and level, which delivers a very even and consistent sowing depth, and that creates a very even crop canopy which is easier to manage.” Regardless of the cultivation processes ahead of drilling, Mr Steels operates at a forward speed of 12kph. He says the extra 2m of working width has provided capacity to spare, which adds flexibility to the farm’s working practices.
“We do still plough most of the farm each year, as it creates clean, trash-free, high-quality seedbeds that help in the battle against grass weed control,” adds Tony. “But after maize, we run our Kverneland DTX 3m through, to break stalks and incorporate residues, ahead of the u-drill – it’s a remarkably versatile system that’s as good on ploughing as it is on lightly cultivated stubbles.” He says that calibration is easy and accurate, and with half-width shut-off and ISOBUS plug and play simplicity, he can control and monitor all aspects of drilling through the tractor’s Vario terminal.
“This u-drill does exactly what we want,” he says. “And the added bonus is that two pairs of transport wheels stop the u-drill from being influenced by road camber when moving between our two farms. And that is a big safety benefit.”