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Thread: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

  1. #1
    Jim_Bullock
    Guest

    Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    The cost of fuel is perhaps not the issue it was a year ago.. but when the worlds economies pick-up we can be sure oil prices will go up again....
    We have done a comparison establishing spring rape - ploughed v direct-drilled...
    Ploughed (inc 2 passes with carrier, roll, drill and roll) 49 litres/ha (19.60)
    Overall output of less than 0.4 ha/hour

    Direct-drilled (Aitchison) 5.6 litres/ha (2.24)
    Overall output of 2ha/hour

    Both areas were sprayed off with Glyphosate pre-cultivations

    OK so why plough? to level off the mess we made last harvest..there is a time and a place for the plough... But even with a 3 metre direct drill travelling at only 8kms the overall output is not that bad...

  2. #2
    lee
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    When we had the fendt on the claydon putting osr in at 24 inch rows we got fuel down to 2.42l/ac. At the time fuel was 36ppl if I recall correctly.

    Out of interest a single pass min till and then drill system with current tractors is about 9l/ac but they are thirsty tractors compared to the fendt.

  3. #3
    Dockers
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    Our JD7830 on a 6m 750 used 5.3 lts per Ha average.We did cultivate some land ( on reflection no need , but lack of confidence) with a kvernland ctc 6m on 8530 fuel used was 18.4 lts per Ha :cry:.Then drilled with 750 , used 6.4 lts per Ha. Presumably soft ground ?

  4. #4
    tree mover
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    Great topic Jim. I cant comment- as dont have the figures. Im hoping to start out with a MF 4m drill, so I might have moved up to DD in about 10-20 years! by which time hydrogen will be the fuel!

  5. #5
    s.chiles
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    Quote Originally Posted by Dockers View Post
    Our JD7830 on a 6m 750 used 5.3 lts per Ha average.We did cultivate some land ( on reflection no need , but lack of confidence) with a kvernland ctc 6m on 8530 fuel used was 18.4 lts per Ha :cry:.Then drilled with 750 , used 6.4 lts per Ha. Presumably soft ground ?
    Snap. My 6910 on a 4m 750 also uses 5 lts/ha. I found that I didn't need the front weights for traction and that enabled me to get about another 6 hrs drilling out of a tank of fuel. I had a customer that took me about an hour to drive to on the road and another hour back and I could regularly drill 100 acres in a day and have some fuel left in the tank ( 250 lts capacity). He now has his own 750 which I think says it all.
    The 750 will be slighly harder to pull on cultivated ground, thats why I charge the same for dd' ing as I do for min till drilling. It's funny how that then concentrate's peoples minds and explains why about 60-80% of my work is dd.
    I also plough about 15 acres a year now on average which also reminds me what a waste of diesel it is and how hard it is to make a seedbed out of on the soil around here.

  6. #6
    Top Cat
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    With a 3m claydon behind a 165 Deutz I was getting 9l / Ha in dry DD upto 11 l / Ha in wetter - a tank full easily sees a 20 Ha day. Probably twice the fuel the disc drills use but in my experience it is more reliable. As it has been said often the C is more of a cultivator and drill.

  7. #7
    Tesla
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim_Bullock View Post
    The cost of fuel is perhaps not the issue it was a year ago.. but when the worlds economies pick-up we can be sure oil prices will go up again....
    We have done a comparison establishing spring rape - ploughed v direct-drilled...
    Ploughed (inc 2 passes with carrier, roll, drill and roll) 49 litres/ha (19.60)
    Overall output of less than 0.4 ha/hour

    Direct-drilled (Aitchison) 5.6 litres/ha (2.24)
    Overall output of 2ha/hour

    Both areas were sprayed off with Glyphosate pre-cultivations

    OK so why plough? to level off the mess we made last harvest..there is a time and a place for the plough... But even with a 3 metre direct drill travelling at only 8kms the overall output is not that bad...
    It would be interesting, as it always is, to see a comparision between the rest of the crop inputs, and eventual outputs. And would be interesting again to see the full cost difference, including time and machinery as I think that would be more telling.

  8. #8
    Carpathian Cropper
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    Quote Originally Posted by Tesla View Post
    It would be interesting, as it always is, to see a comparision between the rest of the crop inputs, and eventual outputs. And would be interesting again to see the full cost difference, including time and machinery as I think that would be more telling.

    Good way of putting it Tesla. As you and I did here a couple of years ago. Using the standard of fuel used per tonne sold. I would hope to be nearer to five than 10 litres per tonne. You also make valid point that no till when done well often results in less passes through the field from planting to next planting.

    Well it does in our case.

    Regards.

  9. #9
    Jim_Bullock
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    Quote Originally Posted by Tesla View Post
    It would be interesting, as it always is, to see a comparision between the rest of the crop inputs, and eventual outputs. And would be interesting again to see the full cost difference, including time and machinery as I think that would be more telling.
    Totally agree...Equally we don't want to kid ourselves that we are saving 17/ha in fuel only to loose 150/ha in crop yield...which with spring rape is quite a possibility..

  10. #10
    lee
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim_Bullock View Post
    Totally agree...Equally we don't want to kid ourselves that we are saving 17/ha in fuel only to loose 150/ha in crop yield...which with spring rape is quite a possibility..
    Unfortunately this is what we saw - yields drop resulting is less profit per ha than what we were getting with min till.

    A single 'good quality' pass with a cultivator set at the correct depth brought yields back immeadiately. That single pass costs not more than 4/tonne in a crop of wheat.

    We also saw no reduction in input cost compared to min till. If anything we N we used a bit more because we ended up putting some on the crop as it emerged to 'get in going' as no N was mineralised as the soil is not moved. This N is then not accounted the following spring when your feeding the crop as its long gone. Therefore we used an extra 34kg/ha N which was ok when N was 135/t but when its 400/t its not good.

  11. #11
    Tesla
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    Quote Originally Posted by Elmsted View Post
    Good way of putting it Tesla. As you and I did here a couple of years ago. Using the standard of fuel used per tonne sold. I would hope to be nearer to five than 10 litres per tonne. You also make valid point that no till when done well often results in less passes through the field from planting to next planting.

    Well it does in our case.

    Regards.
    Many thanks. I often remind myself of your sayings that we are not in farming to make it look pretty, but to make profit.

    Although I did have a little smile today as my first DD beans have now popped up

  12. #12
    Carpathian Cropper
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    Quote Originally Posted by lee View Post
    Unfortunately this is what we saw - yields drop resulting is less profit per ha than what we were getting with min till.

    A single 'good quality' pass with a cultivator set at the correct depth brought yields back immeadiately. That single pass costs not more than 4/tonne in a crop of wheat.
    Re: Crap wheat pics - HGCA do you believe me now!

    Lee

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The sad thing is I cant honestly say I drilled any crops in poor conditions when I should not have been in the field. All the wheat 1st & 2nd was in by the end of September and drilled into goodish conditions. Seedbeds were ok having been opened up with the shakerator and then disc/pressed before being drilled and then rolled. So really put to bed well but not as cost effectively as usual admittedly but then again we needed some air in the soil after all the summer rain.

    Our problem has occurred after the drilling with all the crap weather over the winter and the aftermath of the summer flooding.

    I can readily find compaction at 8 inches pretty much everywhere which was shakerator depth so this year its a toss up between the subsoiler and running the disc/tine combo at 10 inches to alleviate the problem.

    The DD'ed crops are even worse and have compaction from the top down to 8 inches. The water has just pushed all the soil together.


    Re: NO TILL/ DIRECT DRILL OPEN DAY

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Quote: Lee
    Dont for christ's sake DD it even if you think the soil structure is perfect. It simply will not work. Thats why I asked because grain maize doesn't really fit into a DD farming system.
    When we did it the field was disc/tined pressed, subsoiled, power harrowed (some places twice) and then drilled.
    On the headlands where the power harrow and drill tractors turned the crop never grew properly and did not yield anything at all and this was after it had been subsoiled.


    A tongue in cheek post for Jim

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The land was loosened with the shakerator last autumn pre-drilling a failed wheat crop (with the benefit of hindsight we should have just direct-drilled the wheat as all our direct drilled crops have survived and look OK)

    Easy I know to just go through and pull these posts out. But the point about no till and the fuel savings. Is to one actualy start doing it. That is no till. And when you have a few years of doing it. Then the savings might become apparent. They will not when cultivations are done with less than as above good results.
    It is a mind set issue. There is no problem having a green stubble to the maize. There is nothing to be gained by eliminating every BLW in wheat. There is little point in total weed control in Rape. It does not impact upon the outcome. Stirring the soil up costs in terms of soil nutrients and in terms of disease control. The cost per tonne as or profit eleemnet is better way to view it.
    As Lee has said on BFF a lot recently there is a logic to economic return. That may not be chasing maximum yeild.

    I am heartend that Simon a long time No tiller in very heavy land of his area appreciates my and some others views that stop stirring soil is step one.

  13. #13
    Jim_Bullock
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    We were getting down the no-till route using our rotation of "tines" to put in rape and beans and the disc drill to direct-drill the alternating wheat crops (ie: so we were not using a disc drill in cereal residue) but the last two extreeme (wet) harvests have put pay to the system in the short-term, but given time, I hope we can get back on course again...
    However I am just wondering that with the right drill, we cannot included the odd spring crop in the rotation to help with weed control and perhaps even enable us to grow some over-wintered cover-crops to boost SOM in the surface layers...

  14. #14
    ozzzie
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    Good topic jim, i must say for a plough drill route you are making alot of passes no wonder you want to direct drill, i am very interested and will always read these topics , i have tried direct drilling on parts of the farm and min tilled the rest, it was min till that was the fuel burner, a pass for this a pass for that etc etc, and even that dint work for me as i need to plough for the crop to cope with the rain fall, and as you said a little dearer establishment is worth it if the crops do well, i am ploughing and combi drilling two passes and thats it i cant roll either or if it rains nothing comes up, and that is cheaper than so called min till and alot cheaper than your ploughing route, 6 furrow plough moving 3m and 4m drill, my 2p for what its worth and all the best jim P.s have you bought and new overalls yet or are they still held together by mrs jims cloths pegs........

  15. #15
    lee
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    Elmsted,

    And your point is .......... ?

    Last year where we struggled was land that had been in DD for 4 years. My trial field coming into year 9 was quite simply lifeless after 2 years of bad weather.

  16. #16
    WillScale
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    I can plough cheap. Land not too heavy, one pass with the old lawrence edwards multicultivator which costs pence to run and then drill. Its bloody cheap but I reckon i can get it cheaper - for me thats the fun of the challenge.

    But I think the real potential of DD for me is yet to be exploited in the UK. I completely accept that yield is of vital importance but I'm willing to take a bit of yield loss and a few cock ups here and there in order to hopefully gain some knowledge that may help in the future.

    Once you get away from the thinking of cultivate vs direct drill and try to stick with the DD way of thinking I think cost savings can come over time. For example I think with a well thought out rotation we should be looking a one herbicide per annum on winter crops, possibly none at all on spring crops if the soil is little disturbed, plenty of mulch and weed pressure is low. It takes time to figure it all out. I once said I wanted to grow crops for nothing - obviously it will never happen but we should never stop aspiring to lower costs and continually assessing. They do do this in the America's so it can be done.

    Lee - I understand your thinking on the min till but this year it seems you will be looking at the worst yields for a while - the fault of the weather you say I guess. But when your direct drilling its the fault of the drill/ system but now your min tilling its the fault of the conditions?

  17. #17
    WillScale
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    Quote Originally Posted by lee View Post
    Elmsted,

    And your point is .......... ?

    Last year where we struggled was land that had been in DD for 4 years. My trial field coming into year 9 was quite simply lifeless after 2 years of bad weather.
    What does lifeless mean? Were there no worms, was there compaction at depth? The soil as a living entity is surely capable of adapting and creating conditions to sustain life or else it would not have been there in the first place. Even "bad" weather is a perjorative thing, look at it from the pov of the soil and adapt your management accordingly - if you want to succeed at it, that is.

  18. #18
    s.chiles
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    The troubles you are having is down to lack of consolidation in the min tilled and ploughed ground. The more you loosen the soil the more you need to consolidate it to put the structure back into the soil otherwise when it rains the soil just slumps and compacts itself, and you end up like hampsters on a wheel where the following year you have to loosen it all again. In Lee's case he used a 750 for two years and then the Claydon. He would have been better to use them the other way round. Don't get me wrong I'm not knocking the Claydon, it just needed the soil consolidating behind it to stop it slumping. Not even a Claydon can stop it raining. If I have a field that is badly compacted I would flatlift it then roll it, otherwise I would end up with 14-18 inches of swamp that I couldn't drill later. Do I plough and min till? The answer to both of these is yes. I would plough an old grass ley that was full of ruts to level it out with a view to bury the weeds and then leave them buried. I would min till if I couldn't control the previous crops volunteers in the next crop with chemicals, ie Oats following wheat, but then the cultivation would be very shallow. However the best for me is direct drilling because its cheaper, faster, more sustainable and the results I get at least equal any other way.

  19. #19
    8440fan
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    Surely the debate has moved on from 'does DD work in establishing crops?'

    We have the technology, as someone once said.

    The question for me is how to stop slugs eating those established crops in a typically Midlands to Northern British climate (ie wet).

    DD no problem. Slug control without cultivations with chopped straw on seed bed - expensive losing battle.

  20. #20
    WillScale
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    whats your rotation 8440?

  21. #21
    s.chiles
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    Quote Originally Posted by 8440fan View Post

    The question for me is how to stop slugs eating those established crops in a typically Midlands to Northern British climate (ie wet).

    DD no problem. Slug control without cultivations with chopped straw on seed bed - expensive losing battle.
    Do as the organic boys do drill cereals 50mm deep.
    Also close slots effectively and roll post drilling. Even distribution of staw helps, when chopping straw I have the counter knives in so that straw residue is reduced to dust.
    I find that slug pelleting before I drill if I suspect there is going to be a problem more effective than applying pellets after they have eaten half the crop. As you direct drill for more years you will also find that the increase in beatle nos will help, I always describe dd'ing as working with nature rather than trying to fight it.

  22. #22
    Carpathian Cropper
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    8440

    When in England I found that on slug control it was best to start slug control pre-harvest.. I am also sure that you need to understand them and how they live.
    I have been of that view ever since. And will repeat here for X time. If you can start to control the generation that are or have just had there preferred food taken away by harvest it is easier than trying to control the thousands more there will be later on. ( Dose pre harvest) I am also firmly of the belief that we have to recognise that for slug pellets to work you need correct dose rate at right time. And in certain conditions you need methio not meta.

    And probably as much as anything cultivations build slug homes and roads and nurseries. Use no till and keep things as firm as possible. Personally one of the reasons I like the Moore is the ring roll keeping things tight round the seed and then roll at an angle after drilling.

    As I said years ago know the enemy is a good start point.

    http://www.bayercropscience.co.uk/co...Slugwatch.mspx

    Regards.

  23. #23
    8440fan
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    Elmsted, Simon,

    All good sound practice - but lets have that again without the slug pellets! Using Meta is not good - and takes all the cost savings straight out. Meta will be banned very shortly which leaves Methio which is pretty scorched earth.

    Practice dependent on pellets is not sustainable economically or environmentally.

    Simon. To be blunt I suspect the slug pressure on the 'Costa del Kent' is nothing like what it is on heavier soils further north where in recent years we have measured rainfall in feet not inches.

    Will. We have no history of growing rape and yet have had to pellet spring barley!!! :cry:

    There is an elephant in this room, can't anyone else see it?

  24. #24
    Tesla
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    Quote Originally Posted by 8440fan View Post
    Surely the debate has moved on from 'does DD work in establishing crops?'

    We have the technology, as someone once said.

    The question for me is how to stop slugs eating those established crops in a typically Midlands to Northern British climate (ie wet).

    DD no problem. Slug control without cultivations with chopped straw on seed bed - expensive losing battle.
    Slug control = dont grow rape. DD is a learning curve, and I would suspect if we spend some time thinking about how slugs live/breed etc then we would be more successful with their eradication.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim_Bullock View Post
    However I am just wondering that with the right drill, we cannot included the odd spring crop in the rotation to help with weed control and perhaps even enable us to grow some over-wintered cover-crops to boost SOM in the surface layers...
    I am hoping that subsoiling in autumn to get rid of any compaction from harvest, then drilling linseed with the Moore will be a good route for us, with some kind of cover crop going on with the combine either autocasting some cheap small seeds, or just letting it green up over winter. Certainly 8 months of leaving the chopped straw on the top should let it break down easily.

  25. #25
    s.chiles
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    Quote Originally Posted by 8440fan View Post

    Simon. To be blunt I suspect the slug pressure on the 'Costa del Kent' is nothing like what it is on heavier soils further north where in recent years we have measured rainfall in feet not inches
    You have obviously not experianced Weald Clay. Forget the Garden of England stuff that's further over. Our rainfall here is also quite high, much higher than East Anglia, its not unusual for us to have between 30 and 40 inches, infact we had over 40 inches of rain in my first year of direct drilling ( 2000 ) and I managed to plant 1700 acres of which more than 80% direct drilled. That was a very steep learning curve for me but there is nothing like being thrown in at the deep end.
    My use of slug pellets would, I suspect, be less that my neighbours who are drilling conventionally.

  26. #26
    tree mover
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    Just want to poke my nose in here. We run an organic enterprise- and as we scale up in tillage, I can see us adapting the concept of DD. Clearly it has huge benefits. But when I worked on a large farm in Alberta- the owner remarked that 'no-till' as they call it is very reliant on chemicals, and this causes me concern being organic- as we would have no control, should things go wrong.

    I can see the romance of using the concept- less fuel, less disturbance of soil, worms, bacteria etc but with no weed control, it might be more of a nightmare, than romance! After seeing some of your photos, it amazes me how we can establish crops without the plough.

    Just as a side issue- do many of you think you could manage your crops, without the use of slug pellets, herbicides and pesticides? Or have you found that DD has allowed you like Simon to cut them back?

  27. #27
    8440fan
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    Fair enough, Simon. It always seems so much warmer and drier when I am in that corner of the world.

    Establishment practices dependent upon slug pellets are not going to be sustainable in the medium to long term - so we need to find alternatives now.

    The key must be to destroy the slug habitat - so no debris left on the soil surface, only standing stubble. Where there is debris there is long term moisture which equals a slug breeding programme.

    We must come to terms with the need for baling and removal of excess residue, and an element of scratch tillage to help disrupt egg laying.

    If this problem isn't faced head on then low till/DD regimes will remain a niche. DD ing virtually disappeared after the burning ban - and it will do again if a sustainable solution to the slug issue isn't found.

  28. #28
    WillScale
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    Good points about the slugs 8440.

    for slugs some ideas:

    beetle banks

    sowing earlier (i mean if you harvest osr in early august what is technically stopping you sowing the right variety of wheat 5 or 10 days later? This is stronger to fight them off)

    making sure the combine chopper is at is absolute best

  29. #29
    Peter_swell
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    Will,
    you raise an interesting point about straw chop - I have heard it said twice now about having a fine chop - a necessity for min-till, but i'm wondering weather the opposite may be better for no-till. (I'm talking about in a high stubble scenario now)
    The problem that I find is that the straw when chopped forms a fine mat that, in a year like we've just had, stops the surface drying and maintains the slug population.

    I'm wondering, if I leave out the counter blades, the straw will be in large pieces with more airflow around them and hence less habitat.... Does this make any sense or have I just won the "stupid post of the week award" ??

  30. #30
    Tesla
    Guest

    Re: Direct Drilling and Fuel Consumption..

    Next year for beans (spring) after wheat, we will be trying to cut the straw as long as possible, and then seeing if the bean drill will cope with the stood straw after being there for 6 months. Only a small trial field, so if it bungs up first bout then can always go over with a flail.

    I would prefer to not even take the straw through the combine, as we dont bale, so why waste the effort of putting it through the machine? But I expect it is a case of suitable drill for the conditions - maybe could scatter some rapeseed / green manure in at the same time?

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