Drilling Directions

David Holmes
David Holmes

Successfully running a cultivator drill in damp conditions needs care, but can be done successfully if the drill and tractor pulling it are prepared and managed correctly, says David Holmes, UK Sales Director for Great Plains (pictured left).

For those thinking of using the drill this spring, he suggests they avoid over-working the soil and draw as much benefit as possible from the winter’s weathering:

“You can run the Centurion’s discs and levelling board (which are individually adjustable) very shallow – so they remove any unevenness in the seedbed - which will reduce draft and minimise the risk of soil flow problems.

“Using the correct tyre pressures – both on the tractor and the drill - is essential.

“Tractor tyre pressure should be set as low as possible – within the manufacturers’ recommendations – to gain the optimum combination of a big footprint and low ground pressure.

“The pressure in the tyres on the Centurion’s full width packer roller should be adjusted so they can flex naturally as they contact and release from the soil and run clean.

“This will help leave a consistent seedbed for the drill’s 00-series disc openers, which are individually sprung so they maintain consistent sowing depth even if the seedbed is not perfect. Coulter pressure should be set just high enough to maintain consistent drilling depth.  The Centurion Drill in Action

“In difficult conditions it may be beneficial to use the 167mm row spacing, rather than the 125mm option also available, so on a 6m drill you have 36 crops rows rather than 48.

“Press wheel scrapers must be adjusted carefully, so they keep the wheels clean and help maintain consistent drilling depth, while not applying an excessive breaking effect.

“Centurion drills fitted with Weigh Cells will perform more effectively in damp conditions because the drill’s full weight will always be spread evenly right across its full width, no matter how much seed is in the hopper.

“One thing to consider is not fully filling the seed hopper. That will mean more frequent re-filling stops, but reducing your maximum weight will be beneficial”.

Finally, he suggests farmers use the opportunity presented by spring field work to assess the state of their soils, and especially the presence and depth of any compaction, and start planning an effective post-harvest restructuring programme now!