At the recent open day held by TFM in Templetuohy, Lemken had brought along a Solitair DT combination drill which took centre stage in its display area.
This drill sets out to be something of a swiss army knife, capable of dealing with all sorts of seeds in all sorts of conditions and in all sorts of tillage systems.
A drill for all seasons
Lemken does not claim that it is 100% suitable for all situations, but, like other manufacturers, the company is acutely aware that tillage farming is no longer a straightforward rotation of cereals plus a break crop going into ploughed ground.
The move to new crops, including green cover crops, and the questioning of the plough as the essential cultivation tool, has brought the need for drills that are far more flexible in operation capability.
The Solitair DT is Lemken’s answer to these shifts in methods and sentiment. It is described as a combination drill that can work in conventional ploughing regimes, min-till or even go direct drilling if conditions are suitable.
Derek Delahunty of Lemken suggests, however, that with the acquisition of the Equaliser drill company of South Africa, full-on direct drilling coulters will be available on Lemken machines in the near future, so it might be worth waiting if thinking of switching to direct drilling altogether.
Generous space frame
In the meantime, the Solitair DT can cope with nearly all other situations, Derek said. The machine on show at Templetuohy was equipped with the options that Derek believes best suited Irish conditions.
The first item on the frame was a tyre packer, which may be replaced with levelling boards if required.
The purpose is to crumble, level and reconsolidate the top surface after cultivation before the two banks of symmetric discs work the soil further.
The discs are held to the large frame by springs rather than rubber block mounts, giving, it is said, a more precise depth control and higher track stability during operation.
Clog free roller
Following the discs is a second tyre packer roller in which the individual wheels are offset to prevent clogging and the tyres are placed the ‘wrong way’ round.
This has the effect of moving the soil to the centre of the wheel rather than throwing it out sideways, resulting in a smoother overall seedbed, according to Lemken.
Before the coulters get to place the seed, there is the choice of inserting a row of harrow tines for extra levelling, or trapeze-type rollers which consolidate the soil immediately ahead of the coulters.
These latter items are mounted in the leading position, ensuring they are pressed down onto the surface.
Lemken’s own Optidisc coulters then bring up the rear, and these are fed from a central metering system via distributor heads sitting above the coulter bar.
Solitair DT options
There is the option of fitting low draught corrugated discs which are suitable for drier conditions as not all the seedbed is cultivated, allowing moisture to remain beneath the soil surface in the undisturbed strips.
These ‘wavy’ discs only cultivate the strip in front of the coulters which reduces weed seed chitting and lowers the power requirement, saving fuel and allowing the use of a smaller, lighter tractor.
Another option is the placing of bank of coulters immediately after the discs for fertiliser placement ahead of the seed. This may also be used for a second type of seed if a companion crop is to be sown.
Naturally, there is a degree of in-cab control of the various elements through an ISOBUS connection and a SIM card communication unit allows real-time data transfer on drill operation to Lemken’s iQblue phone app.
The ISOBUS control system allows for sequential disengagement and engagement of the drill elements at the headland, which may in turn be linked to a headland marker line stored in the satellite navigation system, making for an automated headland management system.
Altogether the impression is that Lemken has put a lot of thought into the design of the Solitair DT.
Its modular construction enables it to be configured for a wide range of situations. Farmers would appear to agree, the company had planned to build 100 models this year, so far it has sold over 150.
Also showing at the open day was Lemken’s latest set of compact discs known as the Rubin 12.
The chief feature of this model is the large disc diameter of 73.6cm or 29in, which makes it more a disc plough than secondary cultivator and indeed, this attribute enables it to cultivate down to 20cm (8in).
Working at this depth puts it on par with tined cultivators, yet it is more flexible due to its shallowest setting being 7cm (3in) at which it will still cultivate across the whole width of the machine.
The secret to this performance is the angle of attack, with it being set at a 20° angle to the direction of travel to aid penetration, and a 14° angle for the first bank and 16° off the vertical for the second bank, to ensure cultivation over the total width.