Location: Buckden, Cambridgeshire
Farm manager / Farm owner: Cade Contracting
Area: 400 acres
Farming land that is mainly heavy clay-based soils but includes patches of other types running right through to sand, Cade Contracting needs to use a flexible drill if it is only going to run one.
The company – based at Paddock Farm, Buckden, Cambridgeshire – works 400 acres near Huntingdon, and completes a variety of contracting work across the region, including a 250 acre block at Worthing, Norfolk.
It switched to direct drilling and strip-tillage for establishing crops some years ago, but felt that its initial choice of drill was not performing as well as required. It now runs a 3m Mzuri Pro-Til which is owned by one of their clients. This drill has solved the problems, says Paul Cade:
Our first ‘direct drill’ struggled on the heavier soils in Cambridgeshire. We have some really heavy clays and when conditions turned damp it would open up a nice seed slot, place the seed, but struggle to close it properly
We were particularly disappointed in one crop of wheat sown after we had burned out a grass ley. There were as many misses as hits. We looked at several leading competitors; one of them – advertised as a direct drill – produced a bow wave of soil which it carried up the field.
One of our clients isn’t afraid to try new ideas and suggested we had a look at the Mzuri. We agreed with him because it is simple and effective. The legs till a nursery bed for the seed, but cause very little soil disturbance. The areas between the seed rows is completely undisturbed, which is important on our heavy soils.
We now use a 3m Pro-Til and it has covered a couple of thousand acres in the two seasons we have had it and has performed well with all crops
They generally leave drilling winter crops until October to enable them to get a good weed and volunteer chit as possible, and then drill as quickly as possible:
With the Mzuri we are confident we can work in any conditions. This spring we were able to drill some beans in conditions when we could barely walk on the field.
The crops we drilled last autumn all look very well – that’s the customer’s opinion, not just ours! We drilled some winter beans for one client in November. The drill came home absolutely smothered in mud but the beans came through beautifully and he is very happy with his crop.
The drill can tend to leave the seed-bed slightly ridged after it has drilled, and we occasionally run a Carrier over it to level off the surface if we feel that will help pre-em treatments be totally effective