“The u-drill has easily met so many of our requirements,” explains Will Chapman, a finalist in the 2016 Farmers Weekly contractor of the year awards. “It packs enough coulter pressure to lift the drill off the ground when sat in the yard, so we have absolutely no problems at all getting seeds in - even in the toughest conditions.”
“It has also proved to be a very straightforward machine to calibrate and use,” he adds. “Half-width shut off is very useful, the headland sequence is very handy and seed metering is very precise.”
Will, along with his brother Ben, continue to expand the agricultural contracting part of the Chapman operation that was started by Will’s grandfather, William, over 45 years ago.
In addition to farming 404ha, the brothers operate a general contracting business from Eastmoor near Kings Lynn, that includes an extensive sugar beet operation from seedbed to harvest, plus combining and maize cropping too - the latter amounts to around 1200ha of drilling and 2000ha of harvesting for local AD plants, which is leading the business into spreading digestate.
It is a workload that demands reliable, efficient equipment. So when it came to replacing the farm’s 19-year old Overum Tive 8m drill, the u-drill was quickly short-listed, based on its all-round performance and capability.
“We chose the 6m u-drill following a demonstration by TNS that revealed just how good a machine it really is,” he says. “We tried it in a variety of scenarios and with several seed types including oilseed rape and spring wheat, and were very impressed with the results.”
Since then, WR Chapman & Son has used the u-drill for almost all its autumn drilling. Only the intervention of wet weather forced the switch to a 4m power harrow drill combination at the tail end of the season.
“We’ve sown a lot of oilseed rape with the u-drill this autumn, using seed rates from 3.5-5kg/ha and achieved far better seed placement and emergence than our previous one-pass system.”
“We’ve had great seed to soil contact, so we’re hoping for stronger, healthier plants that can bring in the yields,” says Will. “And it’s much the same for the cereal crops we’ve planted too.”
“In fact, we’ve used the u-drill as much as we could, for as long as we could,” he adds. “We’ve tried direct drilling with it, we’ve seeded into ploughing and also into min-till surfaces. And we’ve not been disappointed.”
“The drill also rides very well on our soils, sitting flat on top of the seedbed, though in some conditions, we could have done with a levelling board just to help knock some of the seedbeds into shape.”
Run through an IsoMatch Tellus dual screen terminal, the drill is handled either by Fendt 820, at speed of up to 15kph, or on the back of the farm’s Challenger MT765C at up to 18kph.
“While we’ve lost 2m of working width compared to our previous drill, we can easily cover 60ha/day,” says Will. “And the u-drill is of a size that can be handled by several tractors - not just the Challenger. So we have gained operational flexibility.”
“Our land extends from blowing sand, black fen and blue clay, and when we get it right and make the most of conditions, the u-drill is one of those machines that will take some beating,” says William Chapman.
16th December 2016