Precision Seeding Trials With Pro-Til Striptill Drill
18 April 2017
The reason I love being one of Mzuri’s Trial Farms so much is that I get to be one of the first farmers to pilot test their latest developments and share my experience with like-minded farmers from other Trial Farms across the UK and beyond. Being an engineer myself, playing with new kit is far better than Christmas, and with all Mzuri’s latest developments, I’ve been thoroughly spoilt!
One of the most recent projects I’ve been involved with is trialling Mzuri’s Pro-Til precision drill. Having run some trials last year, I was out again at the end of March to test the latest precision metering system – and boy, was I impressed! Mzuri have kitted each seeding coulter with a metering unit which gives exceptionally accurate singling of seed. What’s more, we’ve done a lot of work experimenting with spacings, down pressure and seeding depth with truly amazing results. Take what was previously a cracking one pass striptill drill – particularly when it comes to good trash clearance, preparation of the seeding zone and brilliant reconsolidation – add decent speed, seed singling, drilling depth accuracy and precision spacing, and we suddenly have a whole new concept on the market. It’s a three-in-one drill that can strip till, direct drill and precision seed all in one! It could probably be taught to sing and dance too.
Precision seeding trials in Poland
Following the success on Springfield Farm, I was invited to Mzuri’s Polish Trial Farm to exchange ideas and do some follow up trials. With the Pro-Til already a firm market favourite, a striptill drill that can do precision seeding is going to be a game changer there, according to the Trial Farm’s owner. Speaking to him has been an eye opener. He is a large farmer with a few makes of precision seeding drills that all do the job pretty well, but their Achilles heel has been surface residue. Although they have better soils than ours, they have the weather to contend with: between the fluctuations of cold and hot extremes and with sometimes as little as 200mm of rainfall, every drop of moisture counts in this climate. We both agreed that the secret to high yielding corn crop is down to the drill’s ability to go into last year’s residue so the soil can retain as much moisture as possible, and Mzuri can do just that.
Although the first week of April is typically too early to go spring drilling, we were able to get to work without a problem. Drilling straight into surface residue, we only needed a dry day and we were good to go. The trials went very well and my European friends were delighted with the new drill. The Pro-Til is already returning a much better yield than from the plough, all thanks to its ability to handle straw. In Poland and wider Eastern Europe, they inter-row drill straight into overwintered stubble, which means no loss of moisture and perfect establishment. As well as keeping the soil moist, surface residue keeps the worms happy, improving organic matter levels. Now that Mzuri have perfected the precision coulter system, they’ve got a drill that can transform the way that maize, sunflower and other precision crops are planted. The combination of one pass drilling, fertiliser placement and great seed-to-soil contact on a precision drill sounds almost too good to be true!
I was told the potential for precision maize drilling is something else. Last year’s trials proved to be the best yields they’ve seen in their country by a long way. Even with spring drilling, a failed maize crop does not raise any eyebrows in Poland as the shortage of rain is an ongoing problem. With the Mzuri, not only do they manage to get the crop established, they get brilliant yields so switching to strip tillage has been the case of going from zero to hero.
As I was leaving back for home, the precision drill was getting ready for its next pitstop in Ukraine to be put through the paces there. I hear its brother was heading for Germany to be trialled there. If you’re interested in precision drilling, keep checking in – I have more trials planned this year.