Cheshire-based farmers, John and James Dakin, have increased drilling productivity across their 800 acres of arable land by upgrading to a wider combination drill which is equipped with a front seed hopper for improved weight distribution and reduced soil compaction.

After taking on new land and increasing their arable acreage, the father and son operation based at Jodrell Bank Farm decided to increase the working width of their power harrow seed drill combination. They replaced their seven-year-old three-metre machine with a four-metre combination that is fed by a front mounted 1,500 litre seed hopper.

John explains the reasoning behind the upgrade; “With the old machine needing to be replaced, purely due to its age and the amount of work it had done, we decided to upgrade to a bigger machine rather than just replacing like with like.

“We’ve taken on more land which has increased the drilling workload, and with our own soils varying from light sands to heavy clays, we needed a machine that could not only give an increased work rate, but which would also enable us to make the most of favourable conditions in catchy seasons.”

The Dakins therefore upgraded to a Kuhn combination comprising a BTF 4000 R seed drill coupled to an HR 4004 R folding power harrow, with seed blown to the drilling unit from a front mounted TF 1500 hopper.

“Upgrading to a wider drill was the right decision,” John continues. “The weather has been particularly bad this autumn and the four-metre drill has allowed us to make efficient use of the few decent drilling days we’ve had. In recent years, the seasons have become less well defined which has made autumn drilling a long, drawn-out task. The extra width counteracts this to some extent, but we’ve still been forced to drill in some less-than-ideal conditions, and have had to leave 200 acres for spring oats and barley.”

James adds to his father’s comments; “We’d have been even further behind if we’d still been using the 3-metre machine, but the 4-metre drill has enabled us to increase our daily drilling area from 40-45 acres per day to about 60 acres per day. 

“It means we could have got all our autumn drilling done in two weeks if we’d had the right conditions. But, even with the catchy weather hampering us, we were still able to get more work done than we would have done in good weather with the old drill.  A lot of that is down to the fact that the new machine folds, making it much easier and quicker to move between fields. We can now travel much more safely and easily which makes moving between fields less troublesome and less time consuming.  Every minute saved makes a massive difference when you’re fighting against the weather.”

“The new machine is also much better balanced,” explains John.  “The old drill’s rear mounted seed hopper meant we were carrying a lot of weight over the tractor’s rear axle, which was more than likely causing issues with compaction. Since swapping the seed hopper to the front, the weight distribution is much more even, which has not only reduced the potential for soil compaction, but has also improved traction in some of the wetter fields.  It also allows us to create a consistent seedbed regardless of conditions or soil type.”

Kuhn’s Area Sales Manager explains more; “The importance of ensuring even weight distribution across the tractor’s front and rear axles when undertaking cultivations is often underestimated,” he says. “Using a front hopper not only reduces soil compaction and aids tyre grip in tricky conditions, but also helps to reduce wear and tear on the tractor’s rear linkage. Maintaining even weight distribution also helps to achieve a more consistent drilling depth as the tractor will be less prone to pitching and yawing on rough or undulating ground.”