Great Plains Launches Next Generation Spartan Drill

Great Plains Spartan II 607
Great Plains Spartan II 607

Making its global debut on the Great Plains stand at Agritechnica was the first in a new generation of Spartan drills. The 6-meter SpartanII  607 model is the fifth series of 6-meter drills designed by Great Plains specifically for Europe since 2004.

Built around tried and tested components and technologies such as the well-proven zone cultivation design of Great Plains’ 07 Series opener, the new Spartan incorporates a wide range of new and improved features.

Perhaps the most significant change to the Spartan is a complete rework of the drill’s seed tower configuration based on the design platform established with the company’s Centurion cultivator drill. The new patented system utilises half the number of towers as its predecessor and all towers are now mounted on the centre section of the drill whereas previously some towers were also wing-mounted. Models with dual hoppers, one for seed and one for dry fertiliser, are equipped with four towers and can be run either as single shoot (seed and fertiliser have their own metering yet share the same primary and secondary hoses) or double shoot (seed and fertiliser each have their own metering but also are delivered separately to the ground)  operations. Models fitted with one ‘seed only’ hopper come with two towers for single shoot applications only.

The new arrangement not only looks neater, but claims Great Plains, offers some important practical benefits too. Daniel Rauchholz, President of Great Plains International, explains: “The patented towers now incorporate tramlines with auto rate adjust, integrated blockage sensors and an individual row shut-off option, so, aesthetically, everything looks much cleaner. We’ve reduced the risk of spillages around headland turns by significantly shortening the hose lengths and achieving a faster variable rate shut-off from the cab.

“Primary and secondary hose diameters have been increased by at least 20% which translates into improved seed distribution and air-flow,” he added.

Other improvements have been made with ease-of-use very much in mind. For example, seed calibration on the new Spartan is now a much quicker and more convenient push-button operation carried out from the rear of the machine. The hoppers can be cleaned out utilising the same basic procedure.

Weight brackets have been relocated to make them more accessible. The weight brackets provide the weight necessary to achieve up to 250kg pressure per row to penetrate in no-till establishment systems. Now with unimpeded access these weight blocks can be quickly and easily removed for min-till operations, to reduce compaction or to mitigate the creation of tyre tracks in softer conditions.

On-road handling for this 3-metre transport machine has also been improved. The rear axle has a significantly increased track width to improve stability on the road. New style caster wheels, fitted with 10.0/75-15.3 BKT tires, are capable of running at higher speeds and the rear casters now follow in the same footprint as the cart tyres so as not to create additional tracks. The tyres now include a scraper to keep them clean. The operator can manually lock the wheels in place for safe and controlled backing on and off of trailers.

The second generation Spartans replace a mechanical variable rate drive with a variable rate hydraulic drive to allow population adjustments from the cab as well as variable rate mapping.

The Spartan also has capabilities to establish small seed crops. An optional small seeds roller is available for cover crop applications, oilseed rape, clovers and other small seeds.

The new Spartan retains many of the proven technologies that were brought to the fore by the existing range. Principal amongst these is the field-proven 07 Series openers, which are at the heart of Great Plains’ ‘zone cultivation’ technique. Running directly ahead of the double disc openers, the integrated fluted-profile Turbo Coulter blades cultivate the ground vertically, but only in a 3-5cm wide strip of soil. Residue is cut and moved to the side. The 380mm x 4mm offset double disc blades run in this prepared strip and the seeds are placed at the bottom of the furrow with a precision planter-style seed tube, eliminating seed bounce. A diagonal spring transfers pressure from the mount to the press wheel to stabilise the opener further and reduce vertical opener vibrations which enhances even seed placement. The closing wheels that follow are narrow enough to run on the soil and not on the straw ensuring the correct point of depth measurement.  With a choice of four different types of closing wheels available, Great Plains offers the optimum solution for a wide variety of soil types and conditions.  New to the second generation Spartan are optional levelling tines and scrapers.

Hydraulic weight transfer remains a key feature of the new Spartan. The openers can flex up 125mm and down 75mm, while the wings of the frame can flex down as much as 10° and up over 15°. Coupled with constant hydraulic down-pressure applied to the wings, the drill is able to precisely follow undulating ground conditions from side to side.

A 2-point parallel linkage connects the centre frame to the cart with the upper linkage controlled by an adjustable hydraulic cylinder. This allows the machine to flex forward and back 15° hugging the contours of the ground, front to back, over hills and valleys. “This design allows the operator to transfer weight from the hopper cart to the implement in hard soil conditions or to carry more weight on the cart in soft soil conditions. The result is even planting depth in varying soil conditions,” explained Daniel Rauchholz.

The Spartan offers a variety of hopper configurations including a single seed-only 5280-litre hopper or two 2885-litre hoppers for seed/dry fertiliser applications. A seed and liquid fertiliser option is also available.

The new SpartanII  607, which can be specified with 40 or 32 rows giving row spacings of 150mm and 187.5mm respectively, will be commercially available in late spring 2016.