FASTER SEEDBED PREPARATION KEEPS DOWN COSTS

Faster seedbed preparation for autumn drilling of cereals and oil seed rape has been achieved by a Suffolk farming and contracting partnership in a move that has simultaneously cut their machine operating and maintenance costs.
 
DAF Elliss & Partners farm 300 arable acres at Copdock, Ipswich, growing wheat, barley and oil seed rape. The father and son partnership of Derek and Mark Elliss also run a contracting business operating within a 20-mile radius of Ipswich. 

Started ten years ago, this takes them as far afield as Colchester, Woodbridge and Stowmarket, working on land that varies from heavy clay to sand. A full range of services is provided including combining, whole farm contracts, sugar beet drilling, spraying, spreading and hedge cutting.

“Until three years ago, we used two 4-metre power harrows as part of the seedbed preparation job” explained Mark Elliss.  “However, we needed to speed things up, so we switched to a set of HE-VA 9.5 metre rolls equipped with Shattaboard, a system that allows us to cultivate, level and consolidate in one pass.”

Now in its third autumn, the rig has proved a sound investment and Mark Elliss is highly impressed with its reliability, output and low running cost.

“We have covered over 2,500 acres this season and well over 6000 acres since we bought the unit,” he said.  “The Shattaboard is still using the original paddles, although we will probably replace these for next season at a cost of £500-600.  The only cost to date has been £160 for a new towing eye.”

Nearly all the drilling work is undertaken in the autumn.  Ploughing is carried out with two Kverneland 5- and 6-furrow reversible ploughs, followed by the HE-VA rolls and Shattaboard and a 6 metre drill.  This is normally followed by a quick roll with the Shattaboard in the raised position.

“The key advantage of the higher output system is timeliness – to get over the work faster,” says Mark. “Our aim is to cover 100 acres per ten hour day, which we can realistically achieve – in fact on some lighter land we can do much more.

“The other factor is that tractors with power harrows tend to use a lot of diesel.  The rolls and Shattaboard will probably use as much in a day as a power harrow, but will do three times the work.”

HE-VA 9.5 rolls and Shattaboard in action at Chattisham, near Ipswich, on September 20, prior to drilling the 108-acre field with expert rape seed.