REVIEW: Duncan Ag Renovator AS5000 airseeder

By: Tom Dickson, Photography by: Paul Burfitt, Video by: Paul Burfitt

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Taken by the winds of change, New Zealand agricultural machinery manufacturer Duncan Ag has met the challenge head on. Tom Dickson trialed the award- winning Renovator AS5000 seed drill.

Ongoing demand from Duncan Ag’s strong customer base plus a desire to produce a more versatile drill with wider working width has prompted the New Zealand company to design the Renovator AS5000.

The new model boasts a twin bin, trailing, 5m folding airseeder with an advanced electronic metering system. It can be customised to suit the demands of the customer in a number of different ways including bin size and configuration, tine spacing, rollers or harrows to name a few.

At 5m the AS5000 will get the job done at a much faster rate than its gravity feed drop box predecessors but it hasn’t lost the ability to fit through narrow gateways; folding up to a very manoeuvrable 3.1m.

By turning to air, Duncan has opened up a variety of new configurations and allowed itself entry to the folding drill market.

In fact, the company won the coveted Imported Machine of the Year award at the 2014 Elmore Field Days for the AS5000.

Australian sales manager Anthony White offers me a sold but yet to be delivered drill plus a tractor and access to the Elmore Events Centre so I can try it out.

The events centre at Elmore offers the perfect site to put the drill through its paces because it has areas with varying degrees of cultivation and stubble residue.

For this exercise we are using a 150hp (111.9kW) Valtra four-wheel drive tractor. White says it is important to Duncan to design a machine which doesn’t require farmers to buy a new tractor to suit the drill.



Manoeuvrability and ease of transportation

At a glance

Controls and setup






Duncan Ag Renovator AS5000 Manoeuvrability and ease of transportation

5-Duncan AS5000-folding

The tractor-drill combination makes its way easily through the 12 foot (3.7m) access gate which to some isn’t an issue but there are still plenty of narrow entrances to properties and no one likes cutting fences.

As I folded out the wings to get the show on the road I noticed a gauge mounted on the frame of the drill begins to show a rise in pressure.

Its purpose is to indicate how much downward pressure we have on the wings, the longer I hold the hydraulics open after the wings come down the more pressure is built up in the system.

You want enough pressure to keep the tines in the ground while allowing for movement in the event an obstacle is hit.

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Duncan Ag Renovator AS5000: At a glance

36-Duncan AS5000-grates

Now that the drill is in the working position, I’ve got a good opportunity to check out the bin and filling process.

The standard fit bin is a twin hopper, each with a 1,000-litre capacity. They have a protective grill at the top to catch any unwanted debris or lumps of fertiliser entering.

Also inside the bins are the distributor heads. The value of keeping them inside the bins is it keeps all the air hoses as central as possible over the frame which improves product travel through the hoses. It also minimises sun and weather damage.

I am a bit disappointed in the very basic plastic lid, I think on a machine of this value and quality a solid lock-down sealed lid would be more appropriate.

 At either end of the bin is an aluminium access ladder and steel platform which provides a very safe area to stand. A grouper bin or auger would be the easiest way to fill but the platform will give you a good firm footing if you have to tip in bags of grass seed by hand.

White tells me the fan and air distributors are sourced from dealer Smallaire in Horsham, Victoria while the 1 inch [2.5cm] coil tines come from Agpoint in South Australia.

"They each carry a T-boot with tungsten leading edge. The metering units are made by Agrifinal in Europe and Victor Hydraulics from New Zealand provides the hydraulic system."

From my observation the quality of construction is outstanding.

The main frame is built from 75x75x8mm rectangular hollow sections and for added strength the drawbar appears to be about 100x100 rectangular hollow sections.

The hinging and supporting steel is 20mm plate steel. All the welds appear to be of an exceptional standard and all the steel components have been given a powder coat finish.

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Duncan Ag Renovator AS5000 Controls and Setup

52-Duncan AS5000-RDS Rate Controller

The hydraulic requirements are three sets of remotes: one to operate the fan, one to fold the wings and the third to raise and lower the machine. The electrics should ideally be plugged into a designated power supply but can be attached directly to the battery.

To start working I turn on the RDS rate controller, punch in the sowing rate and set the fan speed to about 2,700rpm.

For light fluffy seeds it might be worth tapering the fan speed back a fraction and for heavy bulky seeds increasing it to guarantee good flow.

Calibrating takes only minutes and can be achieved virtually first time every time. It’s just a matter of taking the main air hose off the Agrifinal metering box (which by the way bears a strong resemblance to those made by Accord) and sliding in a container to catch the seed.

Without having to move I just press the priming button which activates the metering box to dispense seed into the container.

I can then weigh the seed, enter the amount and the monitor does a quick calculation of how much should be there against how much is actually there and self-adjusts to achieve the desired rate.

It’s a really simple process once you’ve done it. The rear metering box is very easy to access, however the front one is more awkward. There is not a lot of space and those who carry a bit of baggage around their middle may find it a bit challenging.

On the AS5000 you can set the air flow to a high rate to ensure a good flow of fertiliser and choke the airflow to the seed for best distribution of each.

Other functions of the RDS monitor include ‘Boost’ function which allows on the go adjustments to the rate, a bin level sensor and of course speed and area covered readouts.

The system receives information from a chassis-mounted ground sensing radar. From my experience it is far more accurate and reliable than axle mounted magnets.

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Duncan Ag Renovator AS5000 Performance

55-Duncan AS5000-with Tractor

Setting off at about 10km/h seems a good comfortable speed and the depth is about 2 inches or 5cm. The coil tines and T-boots cut easily into Elmore’s firmly set soil and the varying degrees of stubble residue seem to jiggle through without too much drama.

Personally, I prefer the coil tine option because its vibrating nature seems to encourage better flow of stubble through the machine. Coil tines also allow sideways movement which makes dragging out rocks less likely compared to other tine designs.

Mounted along the front of the frame is a set of turbo tilth coulters. Cutting and chopping the stubble certainly aids in reducing blockages and it creates a nice path for the sowing tine.

It’s worth noting every coulter wheel is individually sprung, so they act entirely independently of each other. At the rear trail a set of finger tine harrows complete the process.

Both the coulters and harrows are optional extras I would encourage you to consider. Perhaps the harrows could be swapped for a roller if moisture retention is a priority.

There is the option of 5, 6 or 7-inch tine spacings. This one is set up with 6-inch (15.2cm) spacings which gives it an overall effective sowing width of 5,310mm.

A simple calculation of 10km/h multiplied by a sowing width of 5.31m equates to about 5.31 hectares or 13.3 acres per hour. Allowing for fills and other incidentals it’s quite feasible to expect to get over about 50ha or 125 acres in a 10-hour day.

As a safety feature, the AS5000 has a couple of transport safety locking devices that automatically engage when the machine is folded into the transport position. So within minutes of completing the job I’m ready to safely head off down the road without the need of an escort vehicle.

There is however lights installed for safe night time travel on the road.

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The Verdict

One of the options I think will be extremely useful and well worth considering is a heat exchanger. It draws heat off the hydraulics and directs hot air into the fan.

This heated air flows through the metering unit, distribution heads and hoses drying out any moisture that may have collected in the system.

At the moment full production of the Duncan AS5000 drill takes place in NZ but indications are as demand increases we may see some of the manufacturing and assembly done here in Australia

I think it is as good as any other I have seen in this class and will cost around $122,000 plus GST to get one on your property.

Duncan Ag Renovator AS5000 Hits:

  • Construction quality
  • Customised to suit
  • 3.1m transport width
  • Ground sensing radar
  • Simple calibration
  • Automatic transport lock

Duncan Ag Renovator AS5000  Misses:

  • Hopper lid
  • Access for front bin calibration  

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Duncan Ag Renovator AS5000 Specifications

MAKE/MODEL:                               Renovator AS5000

NUMBER OF TINES:                       36

TINE SPACING:                             6 inch

HOPPER CAPACITY:                       1,000 litres per bin

TRANSPORT WIDTH:                      3.1m

SOWING WIDTH:                           5.31m

LENGTH:                                        6.5m

WEIGHT:                                       5100kg (unladen)            

TYRES (MAKE):                              Landmax

TYRES (DIMENSIONS):                   19.0/45-17 (floatation)

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Don’t miss the full report in NewFarmMachinery magazine issue 16, out December 1. Subscribe to the magazine to never miss an issue. 

Find Duncan Ag seeding equipment for sale.


5 DuncanAS5000 folding Hydraulic rams convert the 5m drill to 3.1m ready for transport. 5 DuncanAS5000 folding
7 DuncanAS5000 full width Fully opened up, the AS5000C has an effective sowing width of 5.31m. 7 DuncanAS5000 full width
17 DuncanAS5000 T boot Duncan use a T-boot with a tungsten leading edge and twin delivery hoses to each tine. 17 DuncanAS5000 T boot
19 DuncanAS5000 spring tine harrows Optional spring tine harrows attach to the rear bar to complete the sowing process. 19 DuncanAS5000 spring tine harrows
21 DuncanAS5000 seed metering box The seed metering box is sourced from Agrifinal in Europe and bears a strong resemblance to those from Accord. 21 DuncanAS5000 seed metering box
22 DuncanAS5000 front seed metering box The front seed metering box is a bit awkward to access during the calibration process. 22 DuncanAS5000 front seed metering box
27 DuncanAS5000 priming switch Each seed box has an externally mounted priming switch to activate the calibration process from outside the cabin. 27 DuncanAS5000 priming switch
29 DuncanAS5000 smallaire hydraulic fan The hydraulic fan is manufactured by Smallaire at Horsham come factory set at 2,700rpm but can be adjusted to operate at various speeds. 29 DuncanAS5000 smallaire hydraulic fan
36 DuncanAS5000 grates Grates at the top of each bin prevent contaminants from entering the hopper and air distribution system. 36 DuncanAS5000 grates
42 DuncanAS5000 coil tines The 36 25mm-coil tines, from Agpoint South Australia, are set at 6-inch spacings. 42 DuncanAS5000 coil tines
43 DuncanAS5000 opening discs Optional, and individually sprung, the turbo tilth opening discs do a great job of chopping trash ahead of the tines and aid in trash flow through the machine. 43 DuncanAS5000 opening discs
47 DuncanAS5000 air distirbutor heads Air distributor heads are mounted inside the hopper which keeps all the delivery hoses centred over the machine minimising the distance the seed has to travel. 47 DuncanAS5000 air distirbutor heads
52 DuncanAS5000 RDS rate controller The RDS rate controller maintains accurate sowing rates at varying speeds. 52 DuncanAS5000 RDS rate controller
55 DuncanAS5000 with tractor Between 120 and 150hp tractors will provide plenty of power to pull the drill. 55 DuncanAS5000 with tractor
58 DuncanAS5000 ground sensing radars Ground sensing radars are not affected by dust and dirt and other factors that can inhibit the effectiveness of magnetic alternatives. 58 DuncanAS5000 ground sensing radars
72 DuncanAS5000 calibration Pull off the air hose and slide in the container and the drill is ready for calibration. 72 DuncanAS5000 calibration

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