Moving from combination to a trailed drill for ultimate versatility

Bruce Christie manages Burghill Farm, Brechin in Angus. With around 1400 acres of combinable crops, the farm also has around 100 Aberdeen Angus cows as well as wintering some sheep and to satisfy the livestock side, it means there’s a need to regularly establish grass as well as various green covers and turnips for fodder.

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Back in 2003, Bruce prototype tested the first trailed AMAZONE split tank, grain and fert, drill. Since then there have been two Amazone Avant combination drills consecutively at Burghill Farm but then, 20 years on, Bruce decided it is time to put the power harrow to bed and invested in a 4 metre trailed cultivator drill, the Cirrus 4003-2CC. Bruce comments “As our soils are generally fairly light, we didn’t really need the intensity of a power harrow all the time so we made the change to a passive drilling system negating the need to constantly replace power harrow tines and thus saving us a bit of money as well as increasing our versatility”. The specification of Cirrus drill that Burghill opted for certainly ticks all the boxes by going down the route of the Cirrus-CC. The Cirrus-CC utilises both a conventional RoTeC pro sowing coulters as  well the secondary FerTeC coulters mounted ahead of the Matrix tyre packer roller meaning that any products metered from the pressurised, 4000 litre split hopper can be both put to the rear for single-shoot sowing, or one product down the main coulters and the other between the rows utilising the FerTeC coulters, for double-shoot sowing, or even a bit of both.

Additionally equipped with a 500 litre GreenDrill, mounted to the rear, this catch crop seeder box allows Bruce and the team to sow a third product, applied either full width via the splash plates or down the coulter as well. This vast combination of sowing capabilities enables a large variety of techniques to be adopted when sowing; for example, when establishing oilseed rape, they block off half of the coulters to increase the row spacing, then with the intermediate coulters they sow a companion crop and all whilst simultaneously placing fertiliser under the seed with the FerTeC coulters.

Due to the shorter growing season associated with farming in Scotland, Bruce goes on to say that he always needs to apply DAP or TSP fertiliser when drilling cereals, “This will sometimes be single-shoot or sometimes double-shoot and sometimes a split between the two which gives the plant a controlled intake of nutrient as the root structure develops into various fertiliser zones”.

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Burghill Farms has also adopted a slightly unorthodox method to establish turnips which has brought them success. “We grow them on the flat rather than in beds to graze sheep on and the Cirrus is great for the job ending up with a crop that looks just as well as if they were sown with a precision drill”. Utilising the GreenDrill to sow the turnip seed itself, they then use both main seed tanks for adding fertiliser making for a greater application rate of fertiliser and more time in the field between fill-ups.

Looking at the Matrix tyre packer, Bruce comments how well the Cirrus travels down the road, with the two middle tyres lifting for transport and when turning on headlands. “The two middle tyres raising for the headland really reduces any scrubbing effect and we’ve got some really rough tracks and the Cirrus sits beautifully on the transport wheels meaning that we never have any problems with it rocking side to side” Bruce adds.

Regarding the main sowing coulters, Burghill Farms elected to go with the RoTeC pro coulters as oppose to the TwinTeC+ double disc option. “We have had these coulters on the last few drills and I like the way they work, with the Exact harrow leaving a nice level, even covering over the seed”, explains Bruce.

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Cirrus 4003-2CC with GreenDrill

The GreenDrill 501 was a huge influencing factor for the farm with the Scottish AECS scheme in mind, putting a green cover crop for the winter. Bruce goes on to say “The GreenDrill has revolutionised what we've been able to do in terms of green cover as well. We let out land here for growing potatoes and carrots as well and, in particular with the

carrots, they want the headlands to be sown with wildflowers and nectar bearing plants. So we've used the GreenDrill for that. We've also used it for sowing green cover after carrots to help break down the straw and that returns a bit of nitrogen in ahead of wheat drilling”.

Variable rate sowing is also something the team have dabbled with, being able to load variable rate maps for either of the tanks and the green drill allowing them to increase and decrease application rates of both fertiliser or seed with no input required from the driver. The machine also has section control “Brian from Alan McKay's came out to set it up which was really useful because as the speed you go in and out is critical. Now it's all set up, it's easy to use and we've not had any problem with that whatsoever. It’s great because it keeps overlaps to a minimum on the headlands”.