Philip King
Jolyon King
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Since selling our Mzuri strip till drill, we were struggling to consistently establish oilseed rape both for ourselves and our customers. Conventional systems were slow and expensive and results from our direct disc drill were varied. We needed a wide spaced tine drill that was low disturbance, could place fertiliser and had high work rates.

With the increasing cost of machinery, we thought there had to be a low cost solution without having to invest heavily and buy another drill just for OSR establishment. Thoughts turned to an old Accord six meter air seeder that was little used and just collecting dust at the back of the shed. Could it be the answer and converted into an OSR drill?

The Accord already had twin metering units, so all we had to do was to split the tank to allow us to drill either seed and fertiliser or seed and a companion crop at the same time. Placing a starter fertiliser with the seed gives the plant nitrogen right where it needs it, helping the crop to get away from the start. The old Suffolk coulters were stripped and replaced with Weaving Sabre tine legs sourced from Weaving Machinery. These are set at 40cm row spacings which results in minimal soil movement at drilling and space for the OSR plants to intercept sunlight during podding.

The minimal disturbance leaves the majority of the field looking like a stubble field with only a thin strip of soil disturbed. We feel that this gives the OSR plants an advantage over conventionally established crops in the battle against flea beetle. Plants are barely visible to the beetle as they are sheltered by the previous stubble and they tend not to land.

So far our OSR crops have survived unscathed while neighbouring fields have suffered flea beetle attacks. Also, moisture is retained in the untilled ground helping the crop to get away in a dry August and September.

Since using the Accord sabre tine for OSR establishment, there have been no crop failures and yields have been consistently between 4.5t and 5t/Ha, making it well worth the £2,000 build cost of the drill. Whilst still a work in progress, the drill is constantly evolving and hopefully we can bring its benefits to your farm in the future.