Burden Bros Agri has linked with Andrew Martin of Broad Stream Farming to carry out the test drillings near Newchurch. A field with a history of black grass has been divided into three 72-metre pitches, one drilled by a John Deere 750A, another by a Sumo DTS and the third by a Vaderstad Rapid.

Burden Bros Agri’s FarmSight consultant Kris Romney explained: “My colleague George Whelan and I had the idea in August of running the seed drill trials and began the search for a suitable field. Ideally, we needed one which was prone to black grass, so we could see how the different drills affected growth of the Zyatt winter wheat.

“We approached Andrew, who agreed we could use his field at Chapel Farm and on 8 October we began drilling the field direct into stubble with the John Deere and Sumo, drilling at three different seed rates. We have also run one strip of stubble with the Vaderstad Rapid and have gone into cultivated ground with the other strips for the Vaderstad.”

The team will now monitor the field regularly, carrying out tiller counts to see how the different drills and methods impact on the establishment of the seeds. Burden Bros are holding a “crop walking day” at the farm on 11 December, to allow interested parties to see how the experiment is going. South East Farmer will report back on the results of the two-year trials and revisit the issue every quarter.

The project is being monitored scientifically by Andy Pendry and Rob Purvis of Agrovista, who specialise in agronomy and crop protection.

Kris is excited at the prospect of the trial and acknowledges that it might show that the Vaderstad – a brand not sold by Burden Bros – to be the most efficient. However, looking at it from a cost of establishment, the results could be very different again.

“It’s great to be doing something new and relevant, to give it a fair trial over two years and to monitor the results scientifically,” Kris said. “It’s also good to have something to concentrate on other than Brexit!”

A website has been set up to report on the trials. It can be followed at www.totalcropsolutions.co.uk

The programme for the crop walking day on 11 December is to meet at the Ivychurch branch of Burden Bros at 9am, for a presentation by Total Crop Solutions on the trials, followed by a tyre and track discussion on compaction and then to leave for the crop walk, returning to the branch for further debate and questions. If a large number of visitors sign up, they will be split into two groups, with one staying at the branch while the others walk the test site, then swapping over.

Kris said the weather would obviously affect the results. The ground was very dry when it was sown, but since then there has been a large amount of rain and the site is “extremely wet”, he said.

Burden Bros will return to the same field next year to perform more drill trials, to add data to the first sowing.

Kris said: “If we hit the right combination, the crop will be so much better. I am a firm believer that there is no perfect drill for every operation and our aim is to help the customer find the best for conditions, soil type, crop and year. A drill is a big investment, anything from £60,000 to £100,000 and it would be excellent if farmers got together to share different types of machinery.”

Burden Bros are bringing in their technicians to share their expertise with farmers over the drill project. The company has two with a particular interest in seed drills – Matt Butler based at the Framfield branch and Luke Crowhurst at Ivychurch. Both have shown an interest in continuing their development and becoming specialists in drilling.

Kris said many farmers already have access to technology, but he believed the majority did not use it. “Data like yield mapping is readily available, we need to show how it can help make their lives easier and more productive,” he said.