In the farming program, morning of 27th on BBC Radio 4, mention was of the dry summer and problems with seedbeds this autumn. I was reminded of one of the privileges of my life as in meeting and working with an agricultural engineer who designed a grain drill. The first really clever bit (a strong patent) was that whatever the quantity of grain in the bin, the pressure on the coulters remained constant. Secondly, a very shallow disc at a slight angle cut a shallow slit. Behind the disc was a coulter with a head like a small plough share which wiped any straw out of the slit (I did camera work on this action – it did work) and planted the seed. This was followed by a depth wheel to press the soil round the seed to get good seed-soil contact.
The result was minimal disturbance of the soil (and chitting of weeds in the seedbed), very even depth of placement and the most even emergence of the crop that I have yet seen. Importantly this year (and most years) with minimum soil moisture loss from the seedbed. That man was Sam Moore and, I am happy to say, he still has happy memories of a golden age in farm machinery development but, I guess, leaves Sam Jnr to captain the ship that is still Moore Unidrill.
Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd 27 October 18