New Aitchison Seedmatic brings substancial benefits to Taranaki farm
Duncan Matthews is noticing numerous benefits of the new Aitchison Seedmatic 4142, over the previous model.
Father and son Bill and Duncan Matthews farm 340 hectares of coastal, sandy, well drained land at Maxwell, Taranaki. Farming 1,300 to 1,500 ewes and overwintering cows, their drill is a vital part of the business equation, drilling approximately 180ha a year.
Duncan said he found the new drill vastly improved over their previous Aitchison Seedmatic, “Even though I thought that was good at the time,” he said.
“During the Spring we sow around 80ha of barley, and that’s already in,” Duncan said. “We’ve still got around 6 ha of Pasja (turnip) to put in as soon as the weather sorts out. Then we drill again in the Autumn sowing short term grasses, Appin Turnip, Winifred Rape and replacing some permanent pasture.”
With pasture and fodder management the key to consistently growing and grazing high yield crops, Duncan confirmed that soil testing and rotation of crops was vital. On their farm it led to the re-establishment of permanent pasture when barley cropping land was retired.
Duncan credited the E-drive for many of the benefits of the new drill. Previously his drill was mechanically driven, but now the electrically driven drill was proving to have numerous benefits. He commented, “Everything seems to run smoothly, from easier calibration, to the impressive improvement in accuracy of seeding and fertilizer rates. The augers and hoppers are driven electrically. It is just more efficient.”
He added, “It’s also easy to change the seeding or fertiliser rate at the touch of the screen in the cab. Being able to increase or reduce the rate on the touch screen is a real benefit.”
On the old Seedmatic the coulters were spaced at 150mm. The newly improved Seedmatic has the coulters space at 125mm, allowing room for an extra 4 coulters and the ability to sow a denser seedbed.
Duncan said, “ The narrower coulter spacing was one of the reasons we liked the drill. With the old drill you could see definite lines in the crop, but with the new drill its possible to sow a thicker more durable crop when required.”
The new trailed Seedmatic is also a good deal more manoeuvrable than Duncan’s previous drill. He remarked very happily that, “It’s much easier to drive in the paddock, through gateways and parking up in the shed.”
Up against Aitchison’s claims of the Seedmatic’s ability to handle any seed with a high degree of accuracy, resulting in uniform plant emergence, Duncan was confident to endorse. “We quite regularly get over 3 tonnes to the acre, and we think that’s pretty good. It handles every seed we’ve put through the machine.”
The Aitchison drills are also recognised for their direct drilling ability, penetrating existing pastures, hard rocky soil and drilling into stubble. Duncan was quick to confirm, “During the last 5 years we have only direct drilled. We have not ploughed or used cultivation of any sort. The soil has not compacted at all.”
But Duncan did admit that up until now they had burnt stubble before seeding, but only because the smaller coulters of the previous drill struggled. He’s hoping to be able to substantiate that claim also after reseeding in the Autumn.
The Aitchison Seedmatic is making a good impression on Bill and Duncan’s farm. They bought it through Jimmy Barnes of Power Farming Taranaki. Duncan said, “Jimmy came along and talked about it. That’s how we began with Power Farming. He seems to speak our language; he knows about farming and is very helpful. He was right, the new drill has just made the job so much easier.”