Mechanization and Technology

New bespoke drill on the move

16 October 2021, UK: Drilling has commenced at one of Syngenta’s heavy land trial sites at Comberton, nr Cambridge with a new bespoke drill. The drill has been made to Syngenta specifications by Huffle Engineering.

Rory Hannam, Syngenta trialist explained that this unique drill has been specially designed to be more flexible than other conventional trials drills. It’s a step forward for Syngenta and opens up a whole range of possibilities with the trials work that can now be done. Syngenta’s classic small plot trials drills require a well worked, fine and even seedbed whereas the new drill has the ability to sow into a range of situations, including direct drilling where crops can be sown into a previous crop e.g. a green cover.  

The coulters on the drill can be swapped between tines and discs, depending on ground conditions at the time of drilling. The row width of the coulters (12.5, 25, 37.5 & 50 cms) can also be changed to enable alternative practices such as mechanical hoeing, with colour coded lines being shut off to suit different widths.

The dual hopper on the drill enables Syngenta to do trials looking at fertiliser applications at drilling or companion crops e.g. wheat and beans at different ratios.

The trial being drilled at Comberton is to look at the interaction between using tine coulters which generally give better soil coverage of the seed being drilled, but can stimulate more weed germination vs. lower disturbance discs, which on heavy land in particular can leave seed more exposed but don’t tend to stimulate grass weeds to germinate as much. Also, Syngenta are testing whether greater drilling depth with the discs can help to mitigate this.

Therefore, could drill disturbance, grass weed germination and competitiveness of a winter barley crop have any effect on overall yield with different herbicide programmes? We will wait for results at the end of the season.