Curracloe Farms is a family run enterprise, growing over 700 acres of cereals alongside a sizeable acreage of potatoes, carrots and onions.

Based just miles from the coast in Curracloe, Co Wexford, the business is led by Simon Donohoe and his two sons, Paudie and Simon Jnr.

The family’s land base is made up of a mix of owned and rented land stretching from Curracloe to the reclaimed South Slobs, south of Wexford town and west towards Ballinaboola.

Since 2020, min-till cultivations have been the emphasis within the business for reasons including soil health, reduced costs and the ability to move through ground quicker.

All land destined for cereals is grubbed using a 6m Horsch Terrano and then drilled using a disc drill.

Aside from preparing potato ground, the plough can be resorted to if weather is proving tricky.

In 2020, the Donohoes added a Väderstad Spirit 600C trailed disc drill to their extensive machinery fleet.

Spring is a particularly busy time for the business, not helped by the narrow working windows experienced in recent years.

Potato planting tends to be prioritised, meaning spring cereals generally don’t tend to make it into the ground until mid-April.

To help combat late sowing, the family decided it was best to move to a machine capable of placing fertiliser in the seedbed to promote growth at the earliest stage possible.

Why Väderstad?

“Given that there is quite a bit of horsepower required when preparing potato ground, we weren’t so much limited by tractor size when we initially looked at buying a com drill, we wanted something capable of good output too. Running a 30m sprayer too, we needed something that married in with it, so we naturally found ourselves leaning towards a 6m drill,” Simon Jnr outlined.

Having already been familiar with both the Vaderstad Spirit and Horsch Pronto, both popular machines among local farmers and contractors, Simon outlined that it was between the two. In the end it was the Väderstad Spirit 600C that the team opted for.

The E-Control iPad-based control system can be removed from the E-Keeper docking station and brought outside to the drill to calibrate the metering systems.

Simon Jnr said; “We were sold on the simplicity of the Väderstad, particularly the E-Control and calibration system along with the fact that fertiliser and seed pass through two different distribution heads and individual hoses to separate coulters.”


The Spirit’s modular design is set up to carry out five operations in the one pass. It prepares, consolidates, places seed, reconsolidates and harrows. Meanwhile, the intensity of each of these elements can be individually adjusted from the cab.

Up front, the adjustable CrossBoard paddles help break up any clods and level the surface before the disc harrow.

At the front, the CrossBoard heavy paddles are designed to crush clods and level the field whether it’s ploughed, grubbed or disc’d.

Next up, is the System Disc Aggressive, which is essentially the same disc harrow as that found on the proven Väderstad Carrier according to Simon Jnr and another Väderstad machine that has been ran trouble free for many years.

It sees two rows of 450mm conical discs positioned in an X shape meaning lateral forces are cancelled out so that it runs dead straight behind the tractor.

The depth and intensity of both the paddles and discs can be set from the cab which Simon Jnr says is very useful. Between autumn 2020 and the end of spring 2024, the drill will have worked for four seasons, drilling circa 2,800 acres on its original discs.

He did note that the front row of discs especially are showing signs of wear and are soon due replacement, but otherwise wear has been minimal.

Each seed is dropped infront of the seed disc centres, which means the rotation of the discs help position the seed at the bootom of the seed slot.

For accurate depth control of the coulters and creating optimum seed-to-soil contact, the loosened soil is then re-compacted by a large tyre packer.

Väderstad use a staggered row of 400/55 R15.5 tyres which also double up as transport wheels and leave for a larger footprint while carrying the full weight on the headlands. These packer wheels are staggered across the full working width, leaving the drill easier pulled and to reduce ‘bulldozing’ of soil.

Seeding unit

The Spirit is equipped with 380mm large double disc coulters positioned at 125mm row spacing’s. These offset discs penetrate the ground easily using little pressure and place the seed at the bottom of the furrow ahead of the discs pivot point.

The soil then falls back behind the disc and covers the see with fine tilth.

Similar to the disc harrow, the seeding depth and the coulter pressure can be controlled from the tractor cab, with the latter adjustable up to 80kg per coulter.

The active seed coulter pressure system use sensors within the hydraulic system to immediately determine if the drill is a crest or hollow. If so, automatic valves directly compensates for an increased or decreased pressure. Thereby the seed coulter pressure is kept at a constant pre-set value, irrespective of which working angle the seed coulters are in, relative to the rest of the machine.

In good conditions a forward speed of 15-16km/h can be achieved, drilling up to 8ha/hr.

The seed and fertiliser distribution heads are positioned high to ensure proper distribution on all terrain. Both of which are features the Donohoes believe work well based on the results witnessed.

Completing the seeding process is the hydraulically adjustable following tine harrow. This heavy duty option is positioned to run in between the seed rows, so there is no risk of disturbing shallow seeds.

Fertiliser placement

Väderstad offer three different options on its C-model drills for the placement of fertiliser. First up is the Fix-version which the Donohoes opted for. Here, fertiliser coulters are mounted on the front disc tool. Fertiliser is placed in 5cm wide strips at 125mm row spacing’s at a depth adjustable from the cab.

The majority of drilling is now done using the John Deere 8360RT twin-track tractor.

The second option is InLine whereby fertiliser is placed together with the seed in the seed coulter or finally, a Nordic version whereby fertiliser is placed ahead of the seed coulter between seed rows.


The Donohoes’ drill, was in fact one of the earlier new model 6m Spirits in the country with E-Control which he said is a dream to work both when in the cab and for the calibration procedures out at the metering units.

The system comprises an iPad and the E-Keeper in-cab docking station which connects wirelessly to the machine.

For calibrations, the iPad can be quickly removed from the dock and brought out to the drill during the setup procedure.

“All in all the calibration procedures take about three minutes for each metering unit. Results are inputted into the terminal and it adjusts itself automatically.

“Calibrations aside, the terminal is well laid out and very intuitive to use. In fact, it was one of the initial features that drew us to Väderstad when we first looked at the drill,” said Simon Jnr.

Although initially pulled with a Fendt 828 Vario, a John Deere 8360RT has been the Donohoes’ ‘go-to’ drilling tractor in recent years.

“The twin-track suits well for drilling, it’s excellent in terms of limiting soil compaction and maximising traction, with plenty of power to pull the drill at ease at speeds up to 15-16km/h, even when the discs and paddles are well engaged with the soil,” he added.

In the best of going that this allows for an output of up to 12ac/hr in good conditions. The drill also features half-width shut-off (two 3m sections).

Blockage monitoring and seed counting

Another feature which Simon Jnr believes was optional at the time was the SeedEye system.

Its purpose is to offer real-time seed counting for precise rate and blockage monitoring across all seed and fertiliser hoses. Theoretically, Väderstad claims that the seed counting system eliminates the need for manual seed calibrations.

The system combines seeding information with driving speed from its radar and from there can adjust output to maintain the selected seed rate.

Although not quite ready for variable rate seeding, Simon Jnr did outline that the future goal is to get there in the not so distant future. Integrated with the Isobus task controller, the drill can facilitate variable seed rates.

The Spirit range is available in 3m to 9m working widths in both standard (S) grain only versions or as grain and fertiliser (C) versions.

The 5,000l hopper division is adjustable according to Simon, however their machine is setup to carry 60% fertiliser and 40% seed which roughly translates to four bags of fertiliser (2,000kg) and three bags of seed.