For Essex farmer Jon Hills, the TS Evo threw out a lifeline, as the prospect of not being able to complete autumn planting with regular cultivations and drilling kit became ever more realistic.
“We managed to drill half our 1,500 acres with our min-till disc outfit, but I had to hurriedly buy the TS as a back-up,” says Jon Hills of DA Hills & Sons of Great Broadfields Farm, Barnston near Dunmow.
“I could see conditions getting worse and worse, and I needed a plan B – and fast.”
With a 6m TS Evo, Mr Hills was able to plant a further 500 acres before being completely rained off.
“We’ll hopefully complete the remaining acreage in the Spring with the TS - its the first time in 12 years that we haven’t managed to get all our crops planted in the autumn.”
Despite the difficulties, Mr Hills reckoned it was a good job he bought the Tine Seeder, or the farm would have been looking at a disaster.
Jon Hills’ TS Evo is now one that features on RC Boreham Farming’s radar, after farms manager Richard Butler borrowed his neighbour’s 6m TS Evo to continue with his drilling campaign.
“Like many others, we’ve previously pinned all our hopes on min-till and a disc drill, and in normal circumstances, our cropping is very successful,” he says. “But in times like this, we really do need a lightweight alternative.”
“After borrowing Jon’s TS Evo, I will be buying one to add to my machinery fleet.”
Put to the test on a demonstrator Challenger – Mr Butler is also exploring rubber tracks for greater flotation – the TS has been able to travel in conditions where Mr Butler’s min-till outfit would simply block up and get stuck.
“Drilling conditions are far from ideal, but given that the alternative is no crop in the ground, I have been very pleased to have been able to use the TS to get across our remaining acreage,” he says.
“I’m convinced that having a low-cost drill as a back-up represents a good insurance policy,” he says. “And the option to run two drills in the future, to suit varying soil types and conditions, means we’ll have spare capacity to take on more land, in addition to being much less weather-dependant.”
Jeremy Durrant, who manages The Hydes near Thaxted, Essex, for EW Davies Farms, reports a similar experience.
“We have been looking to add a second drill to our fleet for the last two or three seasons, but 2012 finally drove it home,” he says.
Having planted half of the farm’s 2,000 acre wheat crop with his min-till system, Mr Durrant and his team – like many others - faced the prospect of not being able to drill the remaining acreage.
As a result, he too bought a 6m TS Evo, but with variable seed rate capability, and intends to get full use from the drill on soil types where his 6m disc drill would be a more expensive machine to operate.
“We have managed to get on top of our autumn campaign, taking advantage of frost and other opportunities to patched in failed areas using the TS,” he says.
“Importantly, with this additional drill, we now have options, particularly for light land blocks,” he says. “The TS has proved an extremely valuable, lightweight and low cost drilling system to have in our machinery fleet.”
“And at half the price of our min-till equipment, the TS will give us a clear advantage with spring cropping too,” he says. “With 710s running at just one bar pressure on our Fendt 724, we’ve been able to tread very lightly across our remaining acreage.”
Richard Butler says that after borrowing his neighbour’s TS Evo drill, he will be buying one to add to his machinery fleet.