This spring Cousins of Emneth has been trialling a new means of beet establishment in conjunction with Hutchinsons. The cultivation kit specialist has modified one of its six-leg V-Form subsoilers to accommodate two tines working at different depths. The basic principle all revolves around minimal surface disturbance so up front a plain disc cuts a slot and is followed by a Micro Wing tine (essentially a shrunk down standard subsoiler point) working at 100-150mm depth. Directly behind that is a narrower wing-less tine running 100-150mm below the first to open up the rooting zone.
Double press rings follow in-line behind the tines and there’s then the facility to mount a six-row precision drill on the back of that. Initial trials have shown the concept to work well in dry conditions, aiding to conserve moisture. However in slightly wetter soils the partnership found it was better to pull the subsoiler through a couple of days ahead of the drill, giving the surface tilth a few days to pitch off before seeding. Clearly this approach requires some form of GPS guidance, ideally an RTK-corrected auto-steering set-up.
On the front of the demo tractor Cousins had its new 3.2m Crop Check roller. Designed to put cover crops out of their misery ahead of no-till drills, its flat-steel blades are arranged in a chevron pattern to minimise vibrations and are blunt-edged to crimp and bruise the plant stems without cutting into the soil surface and disturbing weed seeds. Weighing in at 850kg empty and water ballasted up to 1,150kg, the roller costs £3,500.