Growing a large amount of cereals and 90 acres of maize each year, Patrick Kinsella’s business is based around growing his own feed for his large bull beef system.
Located outside the town of Enniscorthy in Co Wexford, Patrick has just completed his first season with a Pöttinger Aerosem PCS 3002 ADD Duplex drill.
This is a two-in-one conventional one-pass drill and precision planter, currently unique to Pöttinger and the first of which has been sold on the island of Ireland.
Two in one
“Each year I would typically sow around 90 acres of maize. I used to plough it myself and hire in a contractor to power harrow and sow the maize under plastic,” explained Patrick.
“The power harrowing was costing me €40 plus VAT/acre and it was costing another €60 plus VAT/acre to sow. Meanwhile, the plastic was costing a further €100 plus VAT/acre.
“I also plough my own cereal ground and used to hire contractors in to sow it too.
“Last year, I decided to look into investing in my own drill. I went to O’Shea Agri and Plant Sales with the intention of buying a standard one-pass drill. When he informed me about the Aerosem PCS drill which is both a conventional one-pass and precision planter, I was really impressed.
“I did my figures and quickly saw the huge potential savings a multi-purpose drill could offer my business.”
The Aerosem PCS 3002 ADD is a 3m heavy duty (10-rotor) power harrow which is piggybacked by a pneumatic drill.
It is configured to a normal one-pass drill, but it is also a precision planter with single-seed placement capabilities.
The seed drill is designed for four applications: sowing cereals, sowing maize with or without fertiliser and sowing maize with grass.
Although this unit is the very first of its kind sold here in Ireland, Pöttinger have been offering the configuration since 2016.
Meanwhile, this latest generation of pneumatic seed drills for cereals and maize were actually showcased by the Austrian manufacturer as far back as 2013/2014 when they won many accolades at the time.
According to Patrick, the conversion from a standard cereal drill to a maize planter takes approximately 15 minutes and requires a few steps.
Firstly, the additional eight trailing coulters need to be fitted, while steel stopper rollers need to be mounted on to these coulters. The steel stopper rollers are added to press the seed into the furrow.
The depth is adjusted on each row by means of a pin to apply more counter pressure for sowing maize. Sowing took place at around 3in to 4in deep, with Patrick claiming continuously even depth was easily achieved.
Once the rate per hectare (110,000 seeds/ha in this scenario) has been set up on the machine''s terminal (or in Patrick’s case, through IsoBus using the tractor’s own screen), the machine uses camera technology to scan each seed which passes through the distributor hoses and onto the coulters.
Meanwhile, the unit also has the electric metering drive system (optional extra) which means the seed flow rate can be adjusted from the tractor seat, with calibration taking place automatically.
Patrick noted that forward speed when sowing is typically around 8km/h, with this being governed by the machine’s Precision Combi Seeding (PCS) system which displays each coulter''s performance on the control terminal.
PCS is the individual seed drilling technology in the pneumatic seed drill. With several single-seed metering elements located beneath the add-on funnel, the hydraulically driven system monitors the precise seed distribution.
Seed flow sensors relay how each coulter is performing on the screen in the cab with a black line indicating the desired forward speed.
Patrick’s drill has a 3m working width and works as a four-row maize planter. This particular drill is a Duplex machine. Essentially, this means the maize seeds can be sown one seed at a time in a staggered fashion.
The maize seed is distributed through eight coulters, with each pair of coulters working in sync to sow the seed from the left coulter, and then from the right coulter in an offset manner. This system offers the flexibility of planting the maize at 37.5cm or 75cm row spacings in straight lines or in a staggered pattern.
Pöttinger claims that planting maize in a double row creates up to 30% more space between seeds and up to 70% more space available per plant, all of which have added benefits.
If running a tramline system, the drill will automatically re-route any seed in the distribution hoses back to the hopper, while if crossing a tramline, the section control (three 1m sections) will ensure minimal wastage.
The machine comes with a 1,250l tank as standard while an additional 600l extension brings its total carrying capacity to 1,850l.
Patrick noted that the hopper holds two half-tonne bags of seed which enables him to sow up to 14 acres without stopping.
The hopper can be split into three divisions by repositioning the partition walls using wing-nuts.
When recently planting the maize, Patrick filled the two outer parts of the hopper with maize seed and the middle section with 20-20-0 fertiliser.
The fertiliser application was split, half right beside the seed, while the other half was applied through the adjacent coulter.
Patrick added that his thinking here was to avoid hitting the plant with too much fertiliser in a single application, while boosting the plant when its roots establish and spread, hitting the adjacently placed granules after a period.
It is possible to configure and apply fertiliser out of any coulters on the machine.
Stopping to load the hopper twice, Patrick said that on his final outing with the drill last week he sowed 6.89ha (17 acres) in three hours, equating to an output 5.66 acres/hour.
With just the spring planting season under his belt, Patrick seems very content with his decision to purchase the drill.
“I have to say the machine is very user-friendly. Up to this year, I had never sown any cereal or maize crops myself. I’ll admit I am a cattle man and not a machinery man, but I sowed all my crops this spring with no hassle. Paul Wilson and the Pöttinger team spent a lot of time ensuring I was properly set up which was a great help. My John Deere 6155R handled the drill at its ease. To be fair I can’t pick any faults with the drill whatsoever, it did exactly what I wanted it to do. It’s the first of its kind in the country but I do think they will become more and more popular,” explained Patrick.