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Innovations optimise crop establishment Latest developments from Pottinger in its drilling and seeding ranges were announced at an exclusive press launch in Germany in early April. David Williams reports. Precision planting of maize in double staggered rows to maximise growth conditions and yield is made possible by a new seeding system available for the Aerosem drill. The Aerosem is available in 3.0-, 3.5- and 4.0m working widths and designed for use in combination with a power-harrow, tine or disc cultivator. Seed hopper volume is 1,250 litres and there is pneumatic feed of seeds to the rear bank of double-disc or Suffolk coulters. An option launched in 2013 was Precision Combi Seeding (PCS) providing maize planting capability, with mechanical metering and allowing farmers and contractors to use a single drill for both cereals and precision planting applications. The Intelligent Distribution System was also added, making it easy to control flow through individual seed tubes to adjust for tramlines of variable spacing - an option popular with contractors, saving time making mechanical adjustments.

The Aerosem drill can be mounted on a power harrow, or a disc or tine cultivator making it extremely versatile but the latest innovation is double-row seeding of maize, which will improve opportunities for increased yield and quality for midsized farms.

The new double-row seed coulters are rubber-mounted to provide flexibility but minimise maintenance.

The singulation units use mechanical fingers which avoid the need for a vacuum. Also shown is the venturi which introduces seed to the airflow for transfer to the coulter.

Pottinger’s drill production facility in Bernburg, eastern Germany was the location of the company’s launch of two new innovations.

Double-row maize planting The Pottinger launch featured a new Duplex Seed drilling process, allowing maize to be planted in double staggered rows, optimising space available for growth as well as light interception and also making the crop suitable for harvesting by a standard maize header just as if it was planted in single seed rows. Row spacing is 12.5cm, with a 75cm gap between each double row. Diametric seed placement allows 30 per cent more space between seeds than single-row planting and 70 per cent more space for each plant, allowing roots to spread more easily and increasing light interception for photosynthesis. There are four metering units on 3m models, leaving no un-tilled surface while the 3.5m versions have five metering units, and leave 12.5cm of un-tilled soil on each side and the 4m model also has five units but has a 12.5cm overlap on each side. Metering is mechanical, through well-proven US-made Precision Planting metering units. No vacuum system is required as fingers on the singulation disc ensure accurate spacing and Pottinger explained that the mechanical system is less liable to issues caused by dust or other foreign material in the seed which could affect a vacuum seal. Hydraulic motor drive is used to regulate disc speed, and control seed rates. Optical sensors monitor singulation quality and a simple colour-coded gauge allows the user to adjust speed to maintain accuracy. The seeds fall from the metering units through a venturi into the air tube for transfer through the short tubes to the coulters and non-vertical delivery outlets help prevent seed bounce, which could compromise spacing accuracy. A rubber press wheel covers and seals the seed and is available with an optional scraper.

There are four singulation units on each side on the 3m version. Hydraulic drive provides speed control.

Extra yields Trials have demonstrated extra yield potential of up to 10 per cent and higher work rates during drilling are achievable with accuracy maintained due to the seed metering system operating at half the normal speed. Planting speed was accurate at up to 10kph providing work rates of almost 2ha (5 acres) per hour with four double rows through a 3m drill. Trials in 2015 by the University for Soil Sciences in Vienna provided increased yield in silage maize of 11 per cent and in corn maize of eight per cent. Larger scale tests in 2016 in Hungary, France, Germany and Austria proved the extra yield potential at

The maize seeding coulters are all fitted with optical seed sensors to monitor singulation performance and spacing.

each location. Coulter pressure adjustment is manual or hydraulic and up to 55kg can be achieved through the

Pottinger’s drill factory in Bernburg, eastern Germany has been owned by the company since 2001, but seeding machinery has been manufactured at the site since 1853, including Saxonia seed drills which were made until the plant was incorporated under the communist regime. Pottinger enjoyed a record sales year for its drills between 2014–15 with most production exported throughout Europe of which the UK accounted for 2.5 per cent, although its share of the mechanical drill market stands at approximately 10 per cent. In its other product areas, forage loader wagons from the brand account for a 55 per cent market share making it the firm leader and the company’s ambitious target for future growth includes sales of 450M Euros by 2022.

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