GEOSPREAD hits the target

For Wiltshire family farming business DL Lemon, soil quality and condition is a key element of crop production across the 1,295ha it currently runs from Manor Farm, Wilton, near Marlborough.

Its philosophy is one that manages compaction as effectively as possible, while application timings – for sprays and fertilisers – are adhered to with military precision.

But doing so has resulted in the farm taking a slightly different approach when it comes to using tractors and machinery. With the ethos of treading as lightly as possible and maintaining output, the farm relies heavily on its Bateman RB55 for spraying, spreading and drilling – the latter using an 8m pneumatic drill.

RB55 carries  an Exacta-TL GEOSPREAD with high-lift vanes to suit 40m tramlines.

While the majority of fertiliser applications are liquid, there is a requirement to apply Kieserite to oilseed rape, and also a late dose of nitrogen – albeit accurately and efficiently – on cereal crops using the farm’s 40m tramline system.

Such a move will allow the last nitrogen application to be split between liquid and granular, to help the farm chase its goal of a 15-tonne wheat crop.

“Application timing is a priority for us and we crop walk on a weekly basis, with all spraying and spreading work scheduled and planned weeks in advance,” explains operator Darren Palin.

The arrival of a twin-disc Excata-TL GEOSPREADER for the 2015 season has allowed the farm to make full use of the RB55’s high ground clearance for late applications.

Equipped with high-lift vanes, isobus, section control and auto stop/start, the spreader is run through an X30 control box in the Bateman’s cab.

“With liquid fertiliser, we have been putting all our nitrogen on before flag leaf to avoid the risk of scorching,” he says. “But the new spreader will let us split the last dose and apply a little later.”

“That late dose through the spreader should get us a bit closer to a 15 tonne wheat crop.”

With around 300 tonnes of fertiliser going through the spreader, output is understandably high. On long days, with a telehandler waiting on headlands to load, it has been possible to cover 600ha/day when the pressure is on.

And making the most of technology sees auto-steering on 40m tramlines used to full effect, allowing Mr Palin to keep an eye on what is going on and where.

“It is amazing to watch the Topcon screen and see which of the spreader’s sections are switching on and off,” he says. “For us, it’s all about the detail.”

The X30 screen is one of many in Mr Palin’s cab.

Topcon X30 shows spreader information and reveals section control functionality.

“Integrating so many different control systems to suit spreading, spraying and drilling means there are a few compatibility issues that I’m working through with manufacturers.”

Mr Palin says swapping between drill, sprayer or spreader is a 20-minute job thanks to the simplicity of Bateman’s demount system.

“We have a very flexible, very accurate and extremely efficient system,” he says.

Darren Palin is impressed with the spreader’s output and accuracy.

16th June 2015

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