New 80-ft air drill ‘impressive and productive’

Flexi-Coil Chris CondonFlexi-Coil’s new 80-ft 5500 air drill gave New South Wales grower Chris Condon’s planting productivity a 33 percent boost during a trial on his broadacre farm this year.

Chris owns an 8000-hectare farm near Griffith in partnership with his mother Jan Condon. This season he drilled 4,000 hectares with the new Flexi-Coil 5500 air drill in combination with a Flexi-Coil 60 series air cart.

He sowed the remaining 2,000 hectares of the cropping programme with his existing Flexi-Coil ST820 precision cultivator.“We have had the ST820 for five years and we have been very happy with it,” Chris says. “But we are in the market for a new machine to expand our operation and create greater efficiencies. I’ve looked at every brand that’s on the market. We trialed the 5500 air drill in April-May and did about 70 percent of our wheat, barley and oat programme with it.”

The new 80-ft Flexi-Coil 5500 is a step up from Chris’s 60-ft ST820 machine, and gives him the ability to cover a third more ground in the same time frame.

The 5500 is the largest air drill Flexi-Coil makes; previously seeding units were only available in 60-ft and 70-ft working widths.

“The 80-ft air drill was really impressive and productive,” Chris says. “We were averaging about 22-23 hectares per hour, compared to about 18 hectares with our old machine, so we noticed a big difference. We need to be in 40-ft or 12m increments, so it works in well.

“There are a lot of 80-ft machines on the market but this is the only one that is not a parallelogram. This is a straight tyne machine. We like it better as it has really good trash clearance, which is a big thing.”

The 5500 has a unique configuration consisting of two front ranks, which follow the contours of the land at a depth set by the nearby castor assemblies, plus two rear ranks, which follow the ground on which the press wheels run. This allows it to achieve exact and repeatable sowing depth.

“I was impressed with the way it contours across the ground. It did a good job and was easy to level to start with,” Chris says.

“Once you have it levelled, it follows the contours well. We had good germination with it and our crops are all up and going. Everything looks good.”

Single-point depth setting provides simple control of depth across the entire machine, and Flexi-Coil’s patented variable packing pressure system allows weight to be transferred between the front and rear sections. This adjusts packing pressure by as much as 30 percent as field conditions change.

The Flexi-Coil 5500 air drill is easy to transport and is the only 80-ft air drill on the market to fold down to the size of an articulated tractor with front and rear dual wheels. Its transport width is 5.3m wide and 4.0m high, which makes it ideal for moving on Australian roads.

“It has a narrow folded width for travel when you’re going from farm to farm and it’s lower than the height of your tractor,” Chris says. “Having the weight spread evenly across 12 wheels on the ground for travelling is also better than on wing up style, where all weight is carried on the center section.” Chris hopes to buy the 5500 air drill for this season.

“We’re really impressed with it. It will suit our operation well and it’s a good solid, simple drill that should last the distance,” he says. “We plant about 6,000 hectares at the moment, and for the first year we will be happy to get things in a lot more efficiently and on time. “We’re in a marginal area here. We get a drier finish with our cropping, so we have to get our varieties in on time, when they need to be in. That’s another reason to go to a wider bar.”

Operating Flexi-Coil’s 80-ft 5500 air drill together with its 60 series air cart is a powerful combination. The 60 series air carts are ideal for broadacre farmers growing cereals, legumes and oilseeds. The range includes seven air carts, with capacities up to 33,000 litres.

Flexi-Coil is now taking forward orders for the 2017 season.

Customers can see the latest Flexi-Coil machines on display in South Australia at Eyre Peninsula Field Days, 9 to 11 August 2016; in Western Australia at Mingenew Midwest Expo, 10 to 11 August 2016 and at Dowerin Machinery Field Days, 24 to 25 August 2016; in New South Wales at Henty Machinery Field Days, 20 to 22 September 2016 and in Victoria at Mallee Machinery Field Days, 3 to 4 August 2016.

Flexi-Coil has 50 dealers Australia-wide. Customers can speak to their local dealer about demonstration days or visit flexicoil.com.au for more information.