Interest in regenerative farming is driving big changes in demand for machinery – with more farmers investing in robotics and data-based decisions.
Low disturbance tillage is becoming increasingly popular as growers as continue to move away from ploughing and embrace modern regenerative farming practices, say exhibitors preparing for this month’s Midlands Machinery Show.
“After root crops or pigs, there is certainly a place for ploughing to reset the land,” says Chandlers managing director Gavin Pell. “But many growers are moving towards regenerative systems which leave the soil profile and structure intact,”
“Some modern subsoilers have very low surface disturbance and can be used to alleviate compaction without disturbing the soil profile. For example, with the HE-VA Stealth a disc makes a cut and a leg passes through. The soil profile is not inverted.”
Growers using a min till or no till regime want effective, low disturbance subsoiling, says Mr Pell. “This is to loosen and fracture the medium depth subsoil to relieve compaction, assist drainage, aeration, nitrogen uptake and to encourage crop rooting.”
Very shallow surface cultivators are also proving popular for stale seedbeds, he adds. “They promote weed seeds to chit. As the cost of chemicals rises some growers are using cultivators instead of glyphosate.”
With less and lighter cultivation, there is a matching trend away from very large tractors.
The new 260-280hp Gen7 Fendt 700 series tractor introduces the VarioGrip tyre pressure regulation system into this lower hp sector.
Mzuri general manager Dani Bond says more farmers are looking for low disturbance direct drills that don’t compromise on quality of the seedbed. In particular, they want good seed-to -soil contact, she adds.
“The flagship Pro-Til one-pass drill offers strip tillage and direct establishment into stubble and cover crops and remains a popular choice with growers looking to reduce establishment costs compared to conventional systems.”
Some growers are looking at dispensing with tractors altogether in favour of robots for some applications,. The FarmDroid is a fully autonomous, solar-powered robot capable of precision drilling and weeding. It has just joined the Opico line-up.
The FarmDroid uses GPS to record exactly where it places each seed. On each subsequent weeding pass, it has no need to identify what’s a weed and what’s not – it simply knows where the crop plants should be and works around them.
“We believe robotics will form the backbone of the next major step in technological development for agriculture,” says Opico managing director James Woolway.
“While it’s early days, we’re coming to the UK market with a product that is tried and tested. The timing couldn’t be better with rising energy costs, labour issues and environmental factors at the forefront of UK farmers’ minds.
As input costs rise, Farol director Kevin Newman says efficiency is a growing trend.
“We are collecting data like fuel consumption on field operations and spray/fertiliser application information. We then use this data to pinpoint inefficiencies which we can improve.
“At busy times on the farm, it’s easy to jump out of a tractor or machine to do a quick job which turns into a big job. By leaving the tractor/machine running operators are using fuel, eating into servicing hours and negatively affecting its residual value.”
About the event
The Midlands Machinery Show is organised by the Newark and Nottinghamshire Agricultural Society (NNAS).
It is a platform for agricultural businesses to showcase their latest range of tractors, machinery, services and technology to farmers, machinery operators, contractors and landowners.
An agricultural charity, NNAS objectives include promoting and organising the show, as well as supporting young people with careers in agriculture, through annual awards, including the Midlands Agricultural Engineering Apprenticeship awards.
For details, visit www.midlandsmachineryshow.com