A 10 acre maize maze at the National Forest Adventure Farm in Staffordshire, was created using an electrically driven drill directed by RTK satellite guidance, offering a spectacular illustration of the capabilities of modern precision farming.
Contractor Michael Tomlinson, working closely with Nick Wells from Rea Valley Tractors and RVT’s precision agriculture team, used his new 8-row Kuhn Maxima 3 TI E drill to sow the field with a single pass. The intricate maze design celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing and was achieved without any manual intervention in the field.
Michael, who has been drilling the maize maze at the site since the attraction opened 16 years ago, explained how the new drill with electronic section control and variable row widths offered the opportunity to move to a new level of creativity.
“In previous years we've drilled the field twice, in two directions, at 75cm row widths, and then the pattern has been marked out using GPS and a lot of canes, with the paths being hoed out manually,” he explains. “For this special year, we took the design and had software written that would enable the drill to create the pattern. We set the drill at 37.5cm row widths and used approximately double the normal seed rate. With autosteer, precise electronic section control on the drill, and RTK satellite guidance accurate to within 1cm, we achieved an incredible level of accuracy and a spectacular result.”
Michael drills over 1,000 acres of maize and fodder beet in the area, in addition to doing contract hedge cutting. With the new electric drill with individual row section control, variable row widths and integral microgranular fertiliser applicator, he aims to extend his drilling into other crops, such as oilseed rape. He will also be offering a bespoke maize maze drilling package further afield.
Tom Robinson, who owns the National Forest Adventure Farm with his brother Ivor, spoke about the new precision drilling process: “We we're very impressed with the accuracy and intricacy of the maze design. It removed so much time consuming manual labour. The results we're fantastic, and we're extremely pleased with how it looked!
“Every year we love sharing our aerial maze photography to reveal the design to the public. The 50th anniversary of the moon landing design captured people’s attention and even attracted international coverage including Fox News in the US. This was one of our best years ever, attracting over 45,000 visitors.”
The maize maze at the National Forest Adventure Farm, located at Tatenhill, Staffordshire, included three miles of paths, bridges, viewing towers and a mock-up of the Apollo 11 lunar landing module.