Crop establishment try-out: part 2

This autumn, seven different drills have been trialled at Parklands Farm. We provided an 18 hectare field of spring bean stubble for this crop establishment try out as part of the Monitor Farm work. Over the course of seven dry days (10 to 17 October 2017) we saw six very different drills trialled, alongside their own. The brief to the manufacturer, dealer or fellow farmer was:

  • Drill Crusoe winter wheat at 200 kg/ha direct into uncultivated bean stubble
  • Ideal depth of seed is 40 mm
  • We will not be rolling this field but we will monitor for slugs and apply ferric phosphate if necessary

It was totally fascinating to see the different approaches for the same aim. From the very simplest drill that just required three point linkage (no PTO, no hydraulics, no electrics), to the more sophisticated arrangements with an unbelievable array of screens in the tractor cab. Some drills were easier to calibrate and set up than others, some were simpler to empty the unused seed from.

The drills tried were: (in order as you walk across the field from farm buildings)

Drill Type of drill Retail cost for 6m, unless stated otherwise Power required for 6m (HP) Drilling date Emerged plant counts  (Mean % emergence)


Emerged plant counts  (Mean % emergence)


Standard Deviation
Sky Agriculture Easy Drill Disc £98,004 210 17/10/17 65 81 6.35
Amazone Cayena Tine £100,500 136 13/10/17 52 74 8.07
Weaving GD6000T Disc £70,840 210 13/10/17 48 73 5.85
Simtech T-SEM Tine £47,500 mtd £60,000 trld 180 11/10/17 34 68 9.65
Cross Slot 5 metre Disc £124,750 250 10/10/17 41 59 24.22
John Deere 750a Disc £102,00 140 09/10/17 50 50 18.52
Mzuri Tine £122,180 450 09/10/17 55 44 10.89

Christy Willett

Christy Willett

Christy and Hew Willett farm at Parklands Farm in Galleywood on the fringe of Chelmsford, Essex. This mother-and-son team farm in partnership across 475 ha of arable cropping, with a mixture of owned and rented land. Their rotation is typically two wheats followed by spring beans/OSR, although this has become more flexible since 2012 to include spring barley and spring oats, based on the condition of each field. The farm has recently moved to a strip-till system and is focussed on the significant challenge of grass weed management, including black-grass and ryegrass. Most of their wheat is destined for local millers. The farm has diversified into horse liveries, as well as office and industrial lets. Christy and Hew see their greatest challenge as keeping their cost of production as low as possible without sacrificing yield. They are keen to use benchmarking, on-farm trials and discussions from the Monitor Farm programme to improve and develop their farm business in these critical years for the industry.

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