U-Drill benefits not just chicken feed
Craig's Poultry is situated near the town of Herbert. It is a vertically integrated business that collects, markets and distributes eggs. It includes a 550-ha grain farm that produces all the feed for the chickens. Manure from the hens goes back onto the farm as fertiliser.
Recently, Craig's Poultry purchased a 6m-wide, high-performance Kverneland U-Drill, which is well suited for high-output farms.
Managing director Brent Craig says the main issue for the cropping operation is timing. "If you can get the timing right, that's where the money is. Autumn-sown wheat is a 10 tonne plus crop and late spring-sown barley is a 5-6 tonne crop if you get the timing right," he says; "There is money on the table from getting your crop timing right."
The Kverneland U-Drill is allowing the team at Craig's to maximise its drilling work when conditions and timing are ideal.
The U-Drill is a trailed seed drill combination that prepares the seedbed, levels, reconsolidates, seeds and presses in one pass. It is designed to work at high speeds (6-18 kph) while maintaining perfect seed placement.
The U-Drill is a system drill with large front and rear packer wheels, a compact disc harrow with 48 discs, and double disc coulters with press wheels.
The 800 mm front packer cracks clods and levels the soil, while the two rows of aggressively pitched discs create a fine, uniform cut across the full width of the drill. The second packer wheel is 900 mm in diameter and it reconsolidates the soil in front of the coulters.
Craigs Poultry's U-Drill is operated by Warren Shirtcliff, who says the team looked at several different types of combination drills before settling on the Kverneland model.
"Power Farming in Timaru ran a very good demonstration with us. They came out and put a U-Drill on our own property and we used it," Warren says.
"That was in spring of 2017. We did a bit of spring planting with it and it went very well. It was a very well run demonstration, and then they just left me to it and I went drilling."
Craig's Poultry purchased the U-Drill and Warren initially drilled oilseed rape with it. “We went in to stubble with an aerator and then went straight in with this combination drill and the oilseed rape has come up really well," says Warren.
"Apart from that it's mainly wheat and barley that we drill. It suits us to just sow seed, rather than seed and fertiliser. We spread a lot of our own chicken manure so we don't want fertiliser as well."
The U-Drill came with a front-wheel kit with three lots of rubber wheels, which Warren says have proven to be excellent.
"I thought the kit would be a bit of a waste of time but I wouldn't have one of these drills without one now. The drill sits so steady and it doesn't rock around. It compacts well.
"The tillage discs are really heavy and you can adjust the depth on the screen. Having the tillage discs means when it rains you can go straight back in with the drill, you don't have to rework it. "The main packer wheels are really good and the coulters work well. The harrow bar at the back is separate, which is good, particularly on the hills."
Brent says the U-Drill holds about three tonne of seed, meaning it only has to be filled twice a day.
"It's about getting hectares under the wheels," he says. Timing is the thing for us and having the wide disc and roller before the coulters saves some passes.
"The monitor and interface are very intuitive and it is designed for productivity. It's our main drill and we have received really good support and follow-up from Power Farming Timaru."
Article in the 2019 Ground Breaker - Rural Contractor