Product Review: Mzuri Pro-Til iGen

Farmers Guide attended an exclusive preview and demonstration of Mzuri’s new Pro-Til iGen one-pass drill on the manufacturer’s farm ahead of the new model’s official Cereals debut. David Williams saw it in action.

mounted one-pass drill

Mzuri’s new Pro-Til iGen one-pass drill

Farmers Guide attended an exclusive preview and demonstration of Mzuri’s new Pro-Til iGen one-pass drill on the manufacturer’s farm ahead of the new model’s official Cereals debut. David Williams saw it in action

The new drill fills a gap in Mzuri’s drill line-up, satisfying demand for a cost-effective, high-output direct drill with a 4.8m working width. “It’s a new approach for Mzuri,” managing director Martin Lole told Farmers Guide. “Like our other drills, it’s designed to produce a perfect seeding environment working straight into stubbles, cover crops and grassland. It is our only linkage-mounted model, but retains our proven seeding technique, producing a tilth, reconstructing the seeding zone and then placing and covering the seed. We firmly believe that this is the right approach to give crops the best start.”

Mzuri direct drill

Farmers Guide saw the new Mzuri Pro-Til iGen 4.8m mounted drill at work in Worcestershire.

Wider appeal

Mzuri’s existing Pro-Til and iPass drills are all trailed, but Martin said that although drawbar drills do a better job of maintaining a constant drilling depth over undulating ground and reduce compaction on headlands, they cost considerably more than linkage-mounted drills which means that the price is often too high for smaller farms to justify. As well as a lower purchase price, advantages of mounted models include easier manoeuvring on headlands and around obstructions and more convenient travel on narrow roads, but disadvantages include reduced seed and fertiliser capacity due to weight limitations.

Increased demand

“We didn’t offer a 4.8m mounted drill previously, but requests from customers for a drill of that type and size were increasing as smaller arable and mixed farms want to reduce their crop establishment costs by reducing the amount of tillage,” stressed Martin.

“The 4.8m width is a good compromise. It’s easy to pull but can achieve high work rates, and only five bouts are needed for the headlands. However, we will almost certainly add 3.0, 4.0 and 6m versions in future to benefit more sizes and types of farms.”

one-pass direct drill

The 4.8m drill is the first mounted model available from Mzuri but incorporates proven design features from trailed drills in the range.

Individual coulters

The new drill has 15 coulters giving 320mm row spacing. Key features from other drills in the range have been incorporated, including leading tines which prepare a nursery seedbed ahead of the coulters, targeted reconsolidation of the seeding zone by a full-width packer roller with a ridge profile to ensure consolidation pressure is applied exactly where it is needed – behind the leading tines, and individually mounted seed coulters for optimum ground contour following and consistent seeding depth.

Each coulter is on a separate spring, attached through a parallelogram linkage to the full-width packer. Press wheels at the rear of each coulter assembly control the seeding depth, and operating pressure is adjusted through the packer roller frame. Pivoting the coulter assembly towards the rear increases pressure on the press and depth control wheel as well as the rear harrow, but a constant seeding depth is maintained. Pressure control is simple – using ram spacers to limit travel.

A double row of z-harrow tines at the rear covers the seed and leaves a level finish.

Accurate at high rates

There is currently no combined seed and fertiliser hopper option as Martin said keeping the operating weight low is a priority, but there is potential to develop a two-section hopper in future for simultaneous seed and fertiliser placement.

The 2,200-litre tank is pressurised and supplies accurately metered seed at up to twice the rate of conventional systems. Twin metering units supply the coulters through a single seed distribution head. The pressurised hopper and twin meters ensure a consistent supply through the 15 coulters even at speeds up to 18kph – which proved successful during trials. “The drill is easy to pull, especially with low-disturbance leading tines and our 240hp tractor had plenty of power and traction. It’s designed to achieve high work rates and at 18kph the finish and results were excellent. If other types of leading tine were fitted then a bigger tractor with more power would be needed to achieve similar speeds, especially when conditions are tougher,” continued Martin.

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The front leading legs have low-disturbance points and working depth is controlled by the relative position of the tines and the full-width roller.

Superior concept

Martin describes himself as a big believer in the front leg leading tine concept. “They are so much more successful than leading discs in a wide variety of conditions.

“We usually recommend setting the tines to work just 20–30mm below the following seeding coulters to create a tilth at seed depth and allow roots to flourish as crops develop. However, they can work much deeper if extra soil loosening is needed. The drill is strongly made and capable of handling the increased stresses behind high horsepower tracked tractors without any problems,” Martin added.

Early availability limited

Limited numbers of the new drills will be available this autumn, but full production will commence in time for spring drilling next year. Rumours regarding the new drill’s availability have been circulating for some time, and Martin said he has already received many enquiries from potential customers. These include current users of competitor 4.8m drills who have recognised advantages of the Mzuri seeding concept, as well as many already using Mzuri Pro-Til and iPass models.

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The seed hopper is pressurised. A convenient manual locking system secures the lid.

Strategy works

“Much of our farm is heavy Evesham Lias clay and since adopting a direct-drilling crop establishment regime, our fields have improved and charlock and black-grass populations which were both high when we arrived have declined. Black-grass doesn’t thrive in well-structured soils and the wider row spacing we favour gives a great opportunity for herbicides to achieve maximum efficacy and reduce the small number of plants that remain. We do everything we can to increase organic matter in the soils, and the more chopped straw remains on the surface after harvest, then the more the worms will pull down. We bring in sheep for mob grazing and our organic matter contents continue to increase. Surveys have demonstrated that the amount of nitrate from our field drains is insignificant, and we rarely apply insecticides or fungicides now as the crop health is so good. Our system works well and saves time and costs.

“The new iGen drill will be priced up to 30% less than equivalent trailed machines allowing even more growers to benefit from advantages of our crop establishment system,” Martin concluded.

Demonstrator view

Luke Vallis works on the farm and is also the company’s product demonstrator. “I recently joined Mzuri and had used zero-til and direct-drills on farms previously,” he said. “I am extremely impressed by the iGen. It’s very easy to use and minimal set-up is required. Moving between fields where the soil types vary, most of the time I can just unfold the drill and start working and achieve great results.”

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