Grain and fertiliser drills offer better crop establishment

by HORSCH

Combination, or grain and fertiliser, drilling is in a resurgence according to HORSCH, with the company now selling more than 65% of its new drills in the UK and Ireland with the ability to place fertiliser and seed in one pass. In fact, all HORSCH drills can now specified with grain and fertiliser from a 3m mounted power harrow to a 12m trailed drill.

Combination drilling had lost favour in recent years primarily due to the high work rates that can be achieved by seed-only drills. However, combination drilling can offer several advantages; better crop establishment, reduced input costs and improved weed control. Ensuring early crop growth is essential in heavy soils and recent very wet conditions.

The HORSCH Precision Placement of Fertiliser (PPF) system uses the company’s Duett coulter to place 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.

Early season phosphorus nutrition is critically important to crop establishment, with a deficiency in the first few weeks having a significant impact on rooting and yield potential. However, phosphorus is very immobile in the soil, moving less than 2mm a week. 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, and therefore reduces the cost of weed control. HORSCH estimates that precisely placing the fertiliser in the seed row can decrease phosphorus and potassium applications by up to 30%. Adding a double hopper for seed and fertiliser on a new 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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