Complete: Performance evaluation of precision sugar beet drills

Timescale: 2005 - 2006
Project Lead: Jonathan Pilbrow
Project Sponsor: BBRO and British Sugar

Project Summary

This evaluation tested seven drills at two speeds and on two soil types. Drill performance was measured by uniformity of seed spacing. There was variability in the way drills were worked and the accuracy of operation. The importance of operating in line with manufacturers specifications was noted. All drills produced good plant populations

Main Objectives

1. To evaluate the performance of the current market range of drills in terms of their ability to produce rapid seedling emergence and optimal plant establishment.

2. To assess the ease of setting up and operating these drills.

Outcomes / Key Message For Growers And Industry

The results of this evaluation highlight how important it is to set the drill to the correct drilling depth for the prevailing conditions. The test also highlighted how important it is to operate the drills at the optimum forward speed, ie that for the Monopill is 7.0kph, faster than either test speed. Ultimately the performance of the drill depends on the skill and judgement of the operator on the day. All drills evaluated did successfully place the seed accurately, with the possible exception of the Herriau. Although even here the total plants established was good. What effect the larger variability around the target spacing from this drill, had on final yield and harvestability was not established. The design of drill does have an advantage in that with one central hopper down time is reduced in filling, resulting in a capacity to drill 40 ha before refilling is required. The heavier weight and design of coulter of the Herriau did allow it to place the seed on the heavier site at a constant depth and achieve the highest establishment at the faster speed. Some drills also operate more successfully at higher forward speeds than others and the ease of use of the drills do vary.

For contractors and farmers drilling large areas these differences may add up to a considerable time saving during a drilling season, and may ultimately allow more timely drilling or a larger area of crop to be drilled.

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BBRO is a not for profit making company.
We are set up jointly by British Sugar plc and the National Farmers' Union.

British Sugar
National Farmers' Union