To take on more maize planting without tying up one of his larger tractors, farmer and contractor, Steven Ward chose to invest in a KUHN Kosma.
The lightweight drill has proved a worthy investment, offering him flexibility of machinery use and precision maize drilling that he considers to be equal to larger, more expensive machines.
Mr Ward farms with his father in Mid Wales, close to the border with England. The family farm has 800, mostly Welsh Mountain, breeding ewes and the contracting business farms 800 acres which includes grassland and forage maize, with winter wheat and stubble turnips used as break crops.
The local land is well suited to growing the water hungry maize crop and he plants 500 acres a year, with some planted alongside the Afon Tanat river. Drilling starts late in April, and in 2022 he put the Kosma to work on the 25th. Maize is sold to local farmers as a standing crop and demand is increasing as livestock farms look for more nutritious feed alternatives to reduce the reliance on costly inputs.
“I’ve done two seasons with the Kosma now, and it’s been a reliable and easy to use machine. I started out thinking I needed an eight-row machine but the six rows are ample for the acreage I need to drill. It easily covers 70-80 acres a day so I wouldn’t have really benefitted from a larger, more expensive model,” he says.
His choice also reflects the tractors he has available in his fleet. He runs six John Deeres and a Claas. However, demand for his larger horsepower tractors led him to look at lighter maize drills that wouldn’t need one of the larger tractors.
“We do a lot of grassland work using KUHN butterfly mowers and a Claas 870 forage harvester and we also offer umbilical slurry application. This means higher horsepower tractors are in demand and I didn’t want to tie one up with a maize drill,” he says.
The Kosma is operated with a John Deere 6130R which makes the pairing a light and agile one. The tractor has ample power to operate the drill, even on some of the more undulating land Mr Ward faces. This frees up larger tractors to carry out power harrowing, mowing and haulage work.
“I particularly like the way it handles on headlands. The section control is accurate, which reduces seed losses and makes headland turns easy. I hadn’t intended to buy a machine with section control, but because the Kosma has electric drive it was not much more to specify it, and I am glad I did.”
When the Kosma was delivered by local dealer Rea Valley Tractors, the technical sales specialist helped him to set up the section control, set the field markers with the correct width and set the depth for the seed and fertiliser placement. The Kosma is linked to the ISOBUS on the tractor and the settings are intuitive and easy to manage.
“I have the same technology as on the larger machines, without the weight and the reliance on a larger tractor. It would be good if KUHN brings out wider running wheels as I find the ones on the Kosma a little narrow for the soft ground I tend to work on, but, overall, I prefer the lighter weight as this goes some way to compensating for the narrow footprint of the tyres.”
Being a lighter machine and operating on a smaller tractor, he is also saving on fuel. This is not to the detriment of seeding precision either and he is also pleased with the way the fertiliser is applied by the Kosma.
“I find the placing of granular fertiliser works well. The fans seem to distribute it well and I believe we are getting the most out the fertiliser we are using when planting.”
The Kosma benefits from the same seeding unit as the larger Maxima drill, but a lighter row unit of 95 kilos, 25 kilos less than the Maxima, means lower power requirement. The chassis design also provides 20 to 30 percent more lifting capacity when compared to the Maxima. This helps to reduce fuel consumption and ground compaction.
“I often find the conditions to be quite soft when it comes to planting in April. However, being able to use the lighter tractor and the Kosma is a big help, especially on the banks and undulating land because it feels more agile and responsive,” he concludes.