The OSR drill line up

This year, the attention is focusing even more on precision drilling and the best way forward in practical terms on farm, says Mr Martin.  "We know the spatial arrangement required to optimise canopy structure, and we now want to find better ways of delivering that." There are six drills on test this year, including two newcomers - the Great Plains 00 Planter and the Vaderstad Tempo.

Amazone EDX

This is essentially a precision maize drill set up at 50cm row spacings, sowing a seed every 6.6cm, exactly 15 per metre of row, which equates to 30 seeds/m2.  “It is the ultimate in precision drilling,” says Mr Martin.  “However, it does not cultivate the soil so we need to find some way of relieving compaction beforehand.

“This year we are looking at strip tilling ahead of the drill, using GPS so that the coulter places the seed along the exact same line that has been cultivated.”

The aim is to only go as deep as necessary, as with any operation aimed at opening up compacted soils, he explains.  “We want to lift the compacted area – going too deep will only squeeze it.”

Vaderstad Spirit C Strip drill

This is probably the most practical type of drill for farmers in the trial, says Mr Martin.  “It sows OSR seed 33cm apart, which we think is the ideal spacing – 15 seeds/m of row equates to 45 seeds/m2.  And, by altering the coulter system, you can use it for cereals at 17.5cm.”

This means farmers don’t need access to a specialist drill to optimise OSR establishment, he adds.  “However, it does not go very deep so it needs some prior cultivation where deep compaction is a problem.”

Vaderstad Tempo

Another premium precision drill from the Swedish manufacturer, the Tempo is primarily designed for maize and will help benchmark the performance of other drills in the trials.

“It is the complete precision drill, and we are using it to obtain perfect distribution to assess any benefits this may bring, says Mr Martin.  The version being used in the trials has 40cm row widths, whereby 15 seeds/m of row equates to 37 seeds/m2.

Vaderstad Topdown with following coulters

This arrangement has been used for several years and continues due to the popularity of such systems in farms.  Seed is sown via following coulters carried behind the machine in 25cm bands behind the tines.  Sowing 15 seeds/m row length equates to 60 seeds/m2, the upper end of the range.  Reducing this to 10 seed has had no detrimental effect on yield in trials, Mr Martin points out.

Great Plains 00 Planter

This uses a subsoiler type approach, and allows accurate seed spacing and depth placement in two rows at 20cm spacing (10cm either side of the tines).  “The tines are fitted at 58cm centres.  With 15 seeds/m of twin row length, equating to 28 seeds/m2, this provides an excellent spread of seed, whilst maximising seeds in the good rooting zone,” says Mr Martin.

Establishment is further enhanced by a bespoke spaced roller, which consolidates only 280mm behind each tine.  Soil between tines is left untouched.

Great Plains YP drill

The YP (Yield Pro) drill uses a similar concept to the 00, precision-sowing seed with side of low-disturbance legs carried in front of the drill.  However, seeds are placed in a zigzag pattern about 10-15cm either side of a low disturbance tine with centres around 76cm.  “This allows more seeds to benefit from the leg without increasing competition in the row,” he notes.

Trials results

Morley 2013/14

Technique

Row spacing

(cm)

Seeds/m2

Seeds/m

row

Fresh green matter (t/ha)

26 Nov

Fresh green matter (t/ha)

15 Mar

Yield t/ha

Great

Plains

YP planter

Twin rows (20cm centres)

wither side

of 76.2m

leg

20

7.5

14.8

13.5

4.78

30

11

15.3

12.7

4.91

40

15

12.1

8.3

4.84

Vaderstad Topdown + coulters

25

30

7.5

15.7

10.3

4.7

40

10

13.2

15.0

4.55

60

15

13.3

12.4

4.66

Amazone EDX

precision drill

50

30

15

14.0

10.9

4.47

40

20

15.2

11.7

4.58

Site drilled 15 August 2013; variety Harper

Brechin 2013/14

Technique

Row spacing (cm)

Seeds/m2

Seeds/m row

Green area index 31 Oct

Green area index 14 Mar

Yield t/ha

Great Plains Simba DTX

55

40

22

1.19

0.75

5.33

55

28

15

0.79

0.57

5.50

Vaderstad Spirit

33.4

45

15

1.52

0.64

6.00

167

90

15

1.46

0.76

5.67

167

45

7.5

1.22

0.72

5.83

Site drilled 22 August 2013, variety Harper

 

“There has been little to choose between the drills so far, on visual assessment at least, says Mr Martin.

“Establishment has generally been very good – certainly all look to have fantastic population counts.  This is where we need to be – they all produced the type of stand we were looking for.”

However, one-pass systems can save precious time during such a busy period, can also save labour, fuel and machinery costs and can be achieved with no detriment to yield, he notes.

“The truth is growers can make most of these machines work, provided they are set up right,” says Mr Martin.  “We now have establishment methods that perform well from year to year across a variety of different soils.

“I would urge growers to come along to one of our Growcrop Gold open days to talk things through – it could be a big step towards breaking through their own yield plateau.”

Establishment methods at 2014-15 Growcrop Gold sites

 

Site

Great Plains

Vaderstad

Amazone

Morley

00

 

Tempo

 

 

 

Croft

00

 

 

Spirit

EDX

 

Doncaster

00

YP

 

Spirit

EDX

+/- strip till

Hanchurch

00

 

 

Spirit

 

 

Berwick

00

 

 

Spirit

 

 

Stoughton

00

 

 

 

 

 

Suffolk

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cirencester

 

 

Tempo

Topdown

 

 

 

 
Results from Morley and Brechin last year (see tables) are typical when establishment is good, says Mr Martin.

“Morley was favoured by adequate soil moisture and the mild autumn/winter.

Establishment method had a big impact, with a strong trend for deeper working implements to result in plants with bigger roots,” he notes.

Differences between treatments were smaller than expected but confirmed the strong trend from previous seasons that lower-than-normal seed rates tend to produce higher yields.  “The Great Plains YP plots yielded slightly more than the Topdown plots, which in turn yielded more than the Amazone EDX plots – this may be related to working depth and consequent crop rooting differences.”

At Brechin, initial growth was slow but did not reduce establishment –plots drilled with the Vaderstad Spirit showed significantly improved establishment.  Highest yields came from wider spacings at 15 seeds/row m, tying in with previous Growcrop Gold results, says Mr Martin.

 

08 June 2015

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