CLAYDON CELEBRATE 10 YEARS OF STRIP DRILLING
developed by Jeff has helped growers to substantially reduce their growing costs, hence boosting profitability, both throughout the UK and now also increasingly throughout Europe. Jeff is no stranger to developing unique solutions to meet farmer始s needs. In the 1980s he developed the Claydon YieldO-Meter which was the first yield monitoring device to be fitted internally to a combine, and was subsequently taken up by Claas. This was followed by the Furrow Cracker, which was fitted to a plough and designed to break down heavy clods and reduce cultivation cost.
ritish farmers have a long tradition that when faced with a problem and finding that there is not a machine on the market that ideally suits their needs, then they retreat to the workshop and build something themselves. Suffolk farmer Jeff Claydon is no exception, except that his development, the Claydon drill, has gone on to sell commercially in its hundreds and provided a completely new way of crop establishment and thinking. In the 10 years since the Claydon drill was first displayed at the LAMMA Show, the Claydon drill and the Strip Tilling system
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But it is the Claydon drill which has had the greatest impact on arable farming and the way in which cereals are established. The Claydon family farm 480ha at Wickhambrook in Suffolk, all of which is on Hanslope Series Grade 2 heavy clay soils. Historically crops were established using a conventional plough, power harrow, cultivation and drill regime. But with wheat at £65/tonne and having taken on some additional land that took 17 passes to create something that even vaguely resembled a seedbed, despite diesel then being 18p/litre it was clear something had to change, and Jeff retreated to his workshop.
Patented Two Tine drilling system The answer, he reckoned lay in working with the soil, rather than against it, let nature do its work and to only move as much soils as was necessary to create the ideal environment for seed germination. Having looked what early direct drilling techniques from the 1970ʼs and 80ʼs and the lessons learned from that, it was clear that using modern herbicides the weed problems experienced then would be far easier to control. Also, whilst traditionally a direct drill relied mainly on a disc to create a seeding slot, this was actually detrimental to seed establishment due to the leading edge of the disc compacting the bottom of the slit, so restricting root development and good drainage. The solution, he felt, was to use tine-based establishment system, working in a straight line that would only move the soil immediately around the seed, but also create a drainage channel through which water could drain and plant could develop a good, deep unimpeded root system. “After all, why work the whole field, which takes time and power,
when all you want is to create an ideal growing environment around the seed and to conserve moisture for good, early germination and growth,” says Jeff. “And also why work any deeper than you need to as this will only bring up clods that are hard to break down and lose moisture. The result was a simple yet effective patented two tine establishment system, which is at the heart of the Claydon Strip Drilling System that is central to Claydon drills today. The first tine is a rigid tungsten carbide tipped breaker tine. This can be adjusted to work at up to 15cm deep, and is designed to initially break through the compacted soil and create a drainage channel directly below the seeding zone, so that seeds do not become waterlogged and rot.
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Ideally the working depth of this tine should reflect the rooting requirement of the crop being drilled, going deep for plants such as oilseed rape but shallower for more fibrous crops like cereals.. By not having to compete with pans or compacted soils, the deep and large complex rooting structure that the Claydon system encourages has resulted in a 10% increase in yields on the Claydonʼs farm, which is reflected on other farms and in trials. The second spring mounted tine follows directly in line with the first breaker tine, and is typically fitted with a 17cm winged ʻAʼ blade that is designed to clear straw from the seeding area and then lift the soil and create a ʻYʼ shaped cultivated band into which the seeding boot, which is directly behind the blade, injects a band of seed. However, depending on conditions and the crop being
drilled, the ʻAʼ blade can be quickly and easily replaced by narrower 12cm or 7.5cm ʻAʼ blades, or a special knife is available for beans. Finally a series of levelling ʻSkiʼ boards gently cover and press the seed band, and other levelling options are available for differing soil conditions. As can be seen, the aim of the Claydon Strip Drilling System is that only the area immediately surrounding the seeding area is cultivated. Working typically at a row spacing of 30cm, the 12cm area between each of the seed bands is left uncultivated to retain moisture and nutrients, but also allow light and air to reach the plant. This also encourages earthworms to help encourage the air exchange ratio and soil fertility. This uncultivated area also has a significant benefit in that it not only helps to significantly reduce power requirement, but also serves to support machinery on subsequent passes, reducing compaction and allowing operations, such as spraying, to be carried out in conditions where it would normally not be possible to travel.
Claydon Hybrid drill Launched in 2011, the Claydon Hybrid drill is now available in working widths of 3.0m, 4.0m, 4.8m and 6.0m all of which are fully mounted to avoid any additional compaction from the drill or scuffing when turning. The Hybrid is suitable for use on a wide range of seed types, carried in high capacity hoppers. The Claydon Hybrid uses the well proven and reliable Accord electric seed metering unit and is controlled using an RDS Artemis Electronics control unit with mapping and manual adjustment of seed rate on the move. In the 10 years since he developed his drill, Jeff Claydon has
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seen establishment costs plummet and yields increase. Trials over the past five years have consistently shown a greater yield response from crops drilled using the Claydon Hybrid drill compared to those established using a conventional plough based cultivations system. In trials conducted by Saaten Union in the UK, results from 31 wheat trial plots showed an overall yield average of 9.23t/ha, an increase of 1.94t/ha (26.6%) over the conventional plots. Similarly in oilseed rape there was a 15% increase in yield to 6.05t/ha.
V Rape Seed drill Taking the Claydon Strip Drilling system a stage further, new for this year is the Claydon V Rape Speed drill which was launched at Cereals. This uses the patented Claydon Seeding Technique to allow growers to establish oilseed rape directly into uncultivated stubble, so ensuring that soil structure is improved and essential moisture retained. This was particularly evident in the rapid germination and growth of Claydon drilled crops in last autumnʼs dry conditions. The new V Rape Speed drill has a working width of 5.0 metres, folding to 2.8m for transport. It comprises of a ʻVʼ frame fitted with the patented 2-Tine Strip Till legs mounted at 60cm row spacing. This wider row spacing and high clearance ensures plenty of room for trash to freely flow. In place of the conventional seed hopper, the V Rape Speed drill is fitted with a Delimbe T15 120 litre seed hopper, controlled using a Delimbe GPS control unit, which helps to considerably reduce weight. One of the major benefits of the new V Rape Speed drill is its
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Effective weed control When reducing cultivations with any system, effective weed control is essential. Whilst creating a stale seedbed in order to encourage weed seed germination ahead of spraying off is nothing new, this has tended to rely on light cultivations, which can result in uneven weed germination if done too deeply. The new Claydon Straw Harrow has a working width of 7.50m and is designed to be both quick, and so cheap to operate, and to only stir the top 1.0-2.5cm in order to encourage chitting for more effective herbicide control and is also highly effective in controlling slugs. The Straw Harrow consists of five banks of hardwearing double-coil spring tines, the angle of which can be hydraulically altered in order to achieve a more ʻaggressiveʼ action, and can typically be used at a high operating speed of up to 25 kph, so allowing outputs of around 12ha/hour to be achieved.
Considerable cost savings
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reduced weight when compared with other hopper and cultivator based drilling systems. When working to a similar depth as the front breaker tine on the V Rape Speed, which can be set to work at up to 18cm, typically a 3.0m wide cultivator with breaker tines will require at least a 300hp tractor to pull it. By comparison the new V Rape Speed, with its 5.0m working width, has a power requirement of only 180-200hp. Thanks to its wide working width, typically working at a forward speed of 8-12km/h, the V Rape Speed drill can comfortably drill about 40ha of oilseed rape a day. Because the patented 2-Tine Seeding technique only moves the soil immediately around the seed band, and leaves the area between each band uncultivated, this not only helps reduce power requirement but combined with the high output, this has resulted in typical tractor fuel consumption figures of just 6.5-7.0 litres/ha. Likewise the wearing parts cost at only £2.50/ha is also considerably lower compared to a conventional deep-working cultivator.
Over the 10 years since the Claydon Strip Drill system was developed, in addition to an increase in yield, this has resulted in considerable cost savings, due to increased drilling output, so allowing greater areas to be drilled, and reduced power requirement. Comparing the Claydon system to a conventional drill system to annually drill 500ha, using a 3.0m Claydon hybrid on a 150hp tractor, this area could be established in just 28 days, whilst with a 6.0m Hybrid this would be cut to just 14 days, so providing a wide drilling window into which crops can be established. As a result, in addition to drilling all their own crops, using a 6.0m Hybrid drill on a 360hp tractor, Jeffʼs brother Frank Claydon now also has time to do a further 1200ha of contract drilling on neighbouring farms, working at a rate of 400ha per 100 hours. Whilst typically it will cost around £130,000 to cultivate and drill 500ha using a conventional cultivation based system, with the Claydon system, establishment costs will be about 1/3 of this at £44,000 and about half of a minimal tillage based establishment system at about £82,000.
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