2013-04-17 xml

Horsch Highlights Resurgence in Seed and Fertiliser Drills

Combination drilling is in resurgence according to Horsch, with the company now selling more than 20% of its drills in the UK and Ireland with the ability to place fertiliser and seed in one pass.

“Although popular in Scotland, combination drilling has lost favour in England in recent years primarily due to the high work rates that can be achieved by seed-only drills,” said Stephen Burcham, Horsch UK General Manager. “However, seed and fertiliser drilling can offer a number of advantages; better crop establishment, reduced input costs and improved weed control.”

Sprinter with seed and fertiliser hopper

Sprinter with seed and fertiliser hopper

Drills, such as Horsch Pronto and Sprinter, are available in seed-and-fertiliser configurations featuring the Horsch Precision Placement of Fertiliser (PPF) system and offer working widths from 3m to 12m. Using the Horsch Duett coulter, the PPF system places a band of fertiliser in the ground about 30mm below the seed. Seeds are placed just above and to the side of the fertiliser and the following tine harrow and tyre packers consolidate the soil.

In Scotland and Ireland, the ‘mix’ version of the Pronto DC grain and fertiliser setup is preferred for spring barley where the seed and fertiliser is mixed together in the row. “Scorching of the seed by the fertiliser is not a problem providing application rates of more than 150kg total of nitrogen and potassium per hectare are avoided,” said fertiliser consultant, Bill Petrie.

Mr Petrie goes on to explain the critical importance of early season phosphorus nutrition. “Its main function is to promote cell division, so a deficiency in the first four or five weeks will have a major impact on rooting and ultimate yield potential. However, phosphorus is very immobile in the soil, moving less than 2mm a week, and locks up in the soil after five to six weeks.” It is essential that the seed and fertiliser must be placed close together for maximum benefit.

PPF also reduces the amount of fertiliser available to weeds between the rows having further advantages in reducing the costs of weed control. “We’ve estimated that precisely placing the fertiliser in the seed row can reduce phosphorus and potassium applications by up to 30%,” said Mr Burcham. “Adding a double hopper for seed and fertiliser on a new Horsch drill only adds between 5% to 10% to the cost, so the savings in year one alone will more than pay for the added cost.”


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