A Novice and his Aitchison Grassfarmer.

I have been mulling and exploring the possible use of a basic DD tine drill such as found in the Aitchison and Sim-Tec range for while now, to use initially on game and stewardship drilling, with an increase next year onwards, as ground comes out of my old Stewardship and transitions into other options that will include cover cropping, herbal leys, and insect friendly cropping on a larger scale and also allow some of the selected fields to start a long process of building up OM again after several years of Contract farming of the land.

I also pondered the Duncan trailed drill as being more suitable for smaller tractors, but in the end I opted for a budget priced new Aitchison Grassfarmer 3014, guided to the machine by the good @SilliamWhale. As others who have been looking will know, 2nd hand machines are not common in this size. My 100hp 4WD seems over the top, but as others have said about these types of drill, they carry heavy, with the weight a long way back.

I would have preferred a 2.7m machine but in all honesty for my limited acreage , the 2.1m will suffice until I have thrashed out the drillling techniques and it's good and bad points. @le bon paysan has been using his identical machine very effectively for a wide range of cropping, and he offered me some most useful guidance, as did @neilo, who is using a more sophisticated 3m Sim-tec. Both proved to me that these machines can work for me.

So 4 different crops now been drilled into a range of seedbeds here in what must be the dryest conditions I have seen here for April for many a long time! The aim was to no-till into ex game cover/stewardship areas that were sprayed off with Kyleo 3 weeks before drilling to remove perennials such as Dock, thistle and Nettle, mostly on some stiff clays. I also had a small area of "boys land" that had overwintered Mustard that grew like a weed. I also left unsprayed a couple of areas on lighter land, one block has self regen white clover, the other has the leftovers from last years game cover and both were growing quite well, just to see what happened and then spray post drilling to kill the greenery.

25 years ago, I was practicing a budget min-till on the heavy clay soils in the Autumn, one or two passes with the heavy discs then through with a home brew combi drill. Cheap and cheerful, and as the land was cracking 2ft deep, no need for deep cultivations, this was complimented by super LGP kit for fert and spraying, so no ruts at harvest time. Bit different to the oversized and heavy kit now.... As a complete novice in no-till I was unsure just what the drill was actually capable off drilling into, so this Spring would be a good test!

I found that the over wintered and top baked clays were effectively a no-go for DD this year, there is moisture down at a couple of inches, but the Grassfarmer is just too light and does not have enough weight to penetrate. Maybe some additional weight would help, but I suspect I am trying for something it's not really designed for? Some penetration could be achieved though, where there was a good overwintered cover, which seems to confirm all that is said here on the benefits of plant cover!! ;)

The lighter loam soils allowed me to achieve what I had aimed for with the drill, again a really good performance was achieved where there was a good level of green material, either sprayed off, or still green. Max height was maybe 300mm, but what really came across was how much more friable the soil was where a green cover had been, which improved point penetration hugely. A lesson learned!! Exposed soil even here was again, more difficult to get the tines into...


IMG_20200421_122846010.jpg IMG_20200421_122923102.jpg Med loam drilled 21/4/20


The mustard was a disappointment in that the Aitchison was blocking a bit, I think I might have made a better job with some drill adjustments but time dictated getting the job prepared, so a fast run with a flail topper, then back with the drill and again, good penetration and no dragging... Will go back and roundup up off the overwintered arable weeds here on Friday. I also disced with my compact discs, a small area of the mustard to see what emergence will be like... Unless we get rain, I reckon the cultivated land will be streets ahead in finding some mosture more readily across all soil types...

Back to the heavy clays... no rain forecast for ages, so I went back to the mid 90s and I disced* through the top cap pulling a heavy cambridge roll behind, a couple of spots needed a 2nd pass, then roll again, then drill. The Aitchison did a really nice job here as you would expect, a bit of adjustment to get the depths right and it was nice to see the seed in out of sight!

The proof will be in the coming weeks as plants emerge and I will see if my attempt to avoid stale seedbeds, has finally worked... ?

I have been impressed at the penetration and potential versatility of the wee drill. It needs the chain levelling bar assembly finished before I drill the brassica mixtures in 2 weeks time, however, that will be waiting for rain. Also needs a step at the back... a sad lack IMO. Build seem OK, bit of surface rust from being a store in N Yorks for a while I guess but not going to rot away.

Annoying that there is no area meter! :scratchhead: Cleaning out seemed a PITA, then I remembered someone here on TFF suggested a vacuum cleaner, so Madam's cordless wonder from Lidl was pressed into service! I've now found an ash hoover with a bigger drum that will do the job well!

More will follow... I woud be delighted to hear of any mods or suggestion on using the drill.





* Yep, hang my head in shame here!! :LOL:
 

neilo

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Montgomeryshire
I have a bagless hoover that I bought of the internet for £50, which works well for cleaning seed out, but usually easier to scoop most of it out with the bottom cut off a 2L spray container first ime.

This Spring is certainly challenging for DD into heavy soil. I drilled 2 fields into failed/sprayed off WB and it went in well & soon be up. Another couple of fields were set below from months of water logging, so I DD’ed after my neighbour ran through with a flatlift. Currently working a couple more fields with a Kongskilde Delta, having seen winter traffic from woodland guys’ tractors and/or sheep, which will drill with the Simtech nicely tomorrow or Friday. I think a short disc would probably make a better job of it, but I don’t have one to hand.

Nice bit of moisture below, with drains all still running, but the surface is like a skin of concrete just now. For game cover crops, I think I’d be inclined to wait for rain, then bang on.
 

Samcowman

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Wiltshire
Don’t worry about having to cultivate to break the crust. We also had to on some clay ground which had been cultivated last September then was too wet to drill. That was drilling with a Horsch Avatar. It just couldn’t close the slot on what was effectively concrete on the top.
 
Pretty simple drill. Even I figured out how to use one.
The foam rollers Pete mentioned you should really take them out anyway when you park the drill up because mice love them and will climb up the seed tubes and eat them. Or so I'm told I haven't had it happen because I haven't left them in long enough. If I leave it parked overnight on the tractor I leave it up on blocks under the wheels to make it more difficult for the mice. They aren't hard to take out especially with help but a bit harder to put back in by yourself. Not impossible though I rest one end of the square rod thing on a stepladder to keep it straight. It will make sense when you try it.
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
Pretty simple drill. Even I figured out how to use one.
The foam rollers Pete mentioned you should really take them out anyway when you park the drill up because mice love them and will climb up the seed tubes and eat them. Or so I'm told I haven't had it happen because I haven't left them in long enough. If I leave it parked overnight on the tractor I leave it up on blocks under the wheels to make it more difficult for the mice. They aren't hard to take out especially with help but a bit harder to put back in by yourself. Not impossible though I rest one end of the square rod thing on a stepladder to keep it straight. It will make sense when you try it.
Do they not have the little mouse-stopper on the exported models? Grassfarmer drills here have a little slider that blanks off all the seed tubes (great if you start drilling with that shut :facepalm:)
 
No mine doesn't have anything like that :(
I don't think it would be too hard to make something to block them though. Just a thin sheet of tin or something cut to size and put in place on top of the seed tubes. The whole thing that holds the seed tubes up drops down to calibrate the drill so I could just cut some strips of something thin to fit in there. Then push the seed tubes back up. I think that would work I'll have to try it.
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
Yep got one here on teh GF, Simon from Simtec was very snitty about the rodent stopper when I spoke with him ar Lamma. Ross from Reese Agris in NZ said for storage of the drill, still take the foampads out, or use repellent as well as teh guard. I have been leaving the drill in the air :ROFLMAO:
Yes make sure to put some rodent powder in each hopper and give the wheel a spin to coat the foam! They aren't hard to change especially if you can find a helper, as the springs hold them all in place if you're gentle.
 

neilo

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Montgomeryshire
I’ve had a Simtech for 6 years now and I’ve never had mice cause any damage to the foams. I never leave seed in the drill though (other than overnight occasionally) and take the back covers off to expose the rollers when parked up over winter.

How much of a mouse problem have you guys got??
 

Forum statistics

Threads
188,573
Messages
4,298,412
Members
47,246
Latest member
The_Soil_Doctor

Liver Fluke in Cattle

  • 161
  • 0
1606235346180.png

As a global animal health company, we work to advocate for our customers and innovate to improve the health of animals through products, expertise, and service. Find out more on the elanco website.

Winter Fluke Treatment in Cattle:

Are you getting the most from your housing/winter fluke treatment?


1606235416806.png

The decision made at housing for fluke treatment depends on multiple factors
but with fluke having a significant...
Top