Back in the late 1980’s, I was advising ICI Plant Protection, as was, about direct drilling and their translocated, green-leaf killer, Gramoxone. We ran a competition called “The Bottom Line” and the prize was a Moore Unidrill (which, incidentally, is still a brilliantly designed drill). The challenge put to 50 farmers was to take one field and cut the number of passes compared with the rest of the farm just by one pass. We made a comparison of the reduced pass field with a neighbouring field. The farmer chose the passes and how they cut down on energy input. We calculated yield based on ears per sq m and calculated MOEC – Margin Over Establishment Costs (pass costs calculated from John Nix’s Pocket Book – the farm management “bible” of the time). The average improvement of MOEC of the reduced pass fields was 11% and the winner showed a commendable 19%. A very interesting observation from some of the farms was that when the number of passes on one field was cut, the yield on other fields went up. Timeliness in cultivations was vital then and, it will be progressively important as global warming advances as evidenced by this last twelve months of oscillating weather.
The Wednesday sustainability blog – Bill Butterworth –
The original patent on the Moore direct drill was really clever – the depth of placement of seed remained the same regardless of the level of seed in the hopper. Getting the crop in at the right time and with even depth and moisture round the seed is key to rapid, even establishment and yield.