Drill Manufacturers In Focus…


Established in 1999, Dale Drills have a wealth of experience when it comes to reduced and No Till establishment of spring crops. Directors Tom and James Dale use their range of drills and low disturbance cultivators on their own 3200ac arable enterprise which incorporates a variety of different soil types.

Spring drilling brings with it a number of different challenges, but Dale Drills believe their machine has the versatility to offer the solution.

Configure for Covers

Biomass in the form of previous crop residues and cover crops, offer a wide range of benefits from acting as a mulch to increasing the soils organic matter content. The Dale Drills Eco range of No Till drills have been designed to cope with high levels of residue and is versatile enough to deal with both brown residues (such as chopped straw and stubble) and green residues (such as cover crops). The company advocates the use of tines – the Eco Drills standard setup, for drilling into brown residues as the straw will tend to ‘flow’ around the tines, whilst the tines work in clean soil under the residue. An added advantage is that the residue tends to be ‘combed’ into the areas between the drilled rows acting as a mulch against weeds.

When drilling into green covers size starts to matter. If covers are under 12” then chances are the drill will cope in the standard configuration with 2 tines fitted. If taller green covers are apparent the company offers a retrofit Cover Crop Cutting Disc Kit which bolts on to each drilling assembly. The disc cuts a path through the green residue, allowing the tine following to clean out any hair pinned material left by the disc and place the seed.

Focus Feeding Where it Counts

Dale Drills have offered drills capable of placing fertiliser alongside the seed since its inception. This technique is particularly effective with regards to Spring cropping as the reduced growing season and typically drier conditions will limit a spring crops ability to develop a rooting system capable of exploiting broadcast nutrient. The Eco range of drills can be specified to place fertiliser alongside seed at 25cm row spacing, and a recently developed option now allows customers to specify drills which can place seed and fertiliser at 12.5cm row spacings.

Match Row Spacing with Crop Type The Eco range of drills come with variable row spacing from 12.5 – 25cm as standard, and 50cm spacing as an optional extra. This versatility within the drill allows farmers to drill different crops at their optimum spacing maximising yield potential. For example spring barley can be sown at 12.5cm row spacing to ensure maximum coverage and if lodging occurs avoid excessive head losses, as can be the case where wider row spacings are used. Row spacing should also be matched to weed pressure. Crops drilled at narrower row spacings will be better able to compete against weeds.

Dale Drilling Depth Accuracy

With the shorter growing season, spring crops require the best get away possible. Dale Drills independent drilling assembly contour following, offers excellent depth control across the width of the drill. Placing every seed at an even and accurate depth, even on rough ground, ensures uniform emergence, improving management of the crop throughout its growth cycle.

Low Draught, Lightweight

The 12mm wide tungsten tipped tines used by Dale Drills reduce the horsepower required to pull the drills. Typically 25hp/m is sufficient to pull a Dale Eco-Drill. This is particularly useful in spring as a comparatively smaller and lighter tractor can be used to pull a drill avoiding creating compaction issues. Alternatively a wider working width of drill could be used on a typical drilling tractor reducing the overall trafficked area, preventing excessive soil compaction. As all Dale Drills use forward facing tine openers, they are more efficient at penetrating the ground than disc openers and so are typically up to 50% lighter than equivalent disc drills. This combined with smaller drilling tractors provide a lightweight footprint.

Meir SC – Low Disturbance Soil Conditioner

Dale Drills sister company, Meir Agriculture, has been established to provide a range of cultivators designed to fit within a Conversation Agriculture system. The Meir Soil Conditioner (SC) is designed to effectively relieve compaction down to approx. 12” without excessive soil disturbance at the surface. The Meir SC is now available with an optional small seed applicator. In this configuration the Meir can be used to establish OSR or cover crops. Initial trials have shown the use of low disturbance tillage combined with cover crops has given yield benefits to following spring crops.