REVIEW: Kuhn SDE 3000 trailed seed drill

By: Tom Dickson, Photography by: Andrew Britten, Video by: Andrew Britten

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Throughout Australia farmers are becoming more and more aware of the value of pasture renovation. TOM DICKSON tests the Kuhn SDE 3000 drill.

Fertility, pasture growth and fodder conservation are the keys to increasing stock carrying capacity and therefore must be the foundation of farm management.

Alister James understands all too well the requirements of running a successful operation. A qualified engineer, he’s worked around Australia in the mining industry.

James’ training as an engineer provided him with the tools to calculate return on investment in both monetary terms and productivity. He also has an uncanny ability to predict performance.

Just like calculating the load bearing potential of a timber laminated beam or steel structure he examined the potential capability of the Kuhn SDE 3000 seed drill.

His meticulous research proved it would increase productivity and reduce costs. He believes it was economically his best option.

"[The Kuhn seed drill’s] performance and the results so far have supported all of my pre-purchase calculations," he says.

Parked at the front of the shed, James has his Brazilian-made Kuhn SDE 3000 drill hitched to a relatively new John Deere 6140 R.

He reckons a 100hp (75kW) tractor will be ample on flat ground but his 140hp (104kW) model gives him a little more power and stability on the hilly terrain around Casterton.

"It weighs over 4 tonnes when fully loaded so can take some handling on our steep hills," he says.

Just by looking at it my gut feeling is that this machine is quality, quality and quality. I just get a real sense of confidence that the Kuhn is one of the best I have seen.

 

Machine build and construction

Kuhn SDE 3000 Seed Drill

The SDE 3000 is a trailing 3m-wide drill with double hitch attachment. It is a 19 row unit at 15.8cm spacing.

Each consists of a double disc opener and a press wheel individually mounted to the frame on a parallelogram assembly.

The stainless steel twin bin hopper has a movable partition. Seed and fertiliser are delivered through straight, rigid telescopic tubes.

The large rear floatation tyres follow in behind the drill adding nothing to the width of the machine. Positioned this way allows it to effectively sow right up to fence lines and obstacles more effectively.

The transport wheels lift and lower the drill hydraulically and provide drive to each of the seed and fertiliser gearboxes. Each bin can be accessed easily thanks to gas struts on the lids.

Stainless steel and a work platform on both the front and rear also help during the filling process. Ladders, bin sensors and transport lights complete the package.

The build quality looks exceptional and to be honest I don’t think you could break it. The steel used in the undercarriage has dimensions of 100x100x7mm and the headstock and drawbar is 150x150x7 plus 13mm plate steel.  

 

Sowing discs  

Each sowing disc unit operates independently so they follow the ground contours perfectly. A tension spring inside each parallelogram unit maintains constant downward pressure and its three settings allow James to sow into any type of soil.

By maximising pressure he sowed annual rye grass and forage oats into hard soil early in the season before he had rain. The double sowing discs cut in beautifully and cause minimal disturbance to the surrounding soil.

 

Press wheels

Kuhn SDE 3000 Seed Drill -press Wheels _4373

Cast iron press wheels, with scrapers, trail about 35cm behind the sowing discs. They are close enough to maintain good depth control, but far enough behind to allow the trash to flow through freely.

The press wheels also act as a depth gauge and have nine settings to adjust the sowing depth at quarter-inch increments.

The parallelogram sowing assembly can ride up and over rocks but it doesn’t move sideways so perfect rows are achieved every time.

 

Calibration

The SDE 3000 is ground drive so once it is calibrated you can sow at any speed and maintain a constant sowing rate.

Calibrating is really simple and takes only minutes without even having to get under the machine to collect and weigh the seed.

A lever on the side of the drill lowers the delivery tubes then a tray slides under the metering units at about waist height. These trays are stored on the SDE 3000 so can never be misplaced.

A rate chart on the side of the bin gets you close to your desired rate then it’s just a matter of fine tuning the rate by manually operating the gearbox and weighing out the dispensed product. The application rate can be anywhere from 0.8kg per hectare to 450kg/ha.

Once calibrated and sowing commences the seed and fertiliser can travel unhindered through the telescopic tubes. They create a smooth, straight drop which reduces the chances of blocking to virtually zero.

The tubes appear to be a huge improvement on the old flexible hoses which were prone to premature wear and tear.

 

Bin and metering system

Kuhn SDE 3000 Seed Drill -bin Partition _4388

The bin and metering system is a real winner. First of all the bin and lids are made of stainless steel so rust and corrosion will never be an issue and it helps keep weight to a minimum.

The bin divider can be moved to create a different ratio of bin splits. For example if you are putting out a higher ratio of product in the front bin then you make that bin larger that way both bins empty at the same time thus reducing the amount of times you have to stop and fill up.

Under normal circumstances the fertiliser bin holds 740 litres and the seed bin holds 640 litres.

When changing from large seeds to small seeds there is no need to install reducers into each metering unit. A lever at the side of the bin closes up the opening above each meter simultaneously in seconds.

 

Controls

Being a ground drive unit means there are not a lot of electronics to deal with. James has mounted the monitor inside the cabin. It gives him the basic info of area sown and speed.

Included on the SDE 3000 are two electronic sensors connected back to the monitor. One alerts the operator when the bin is nearly empty and the second sets off an alarm if the drive shaft stops rotating.

I think a GPS device would be handy because with the transport wheels mounted behind the drill it could be hard to see the edge of your sow line in some circumstances.

 

Linkage

Kuhn SDE 3000 Seed Drill -double Hitch _3761

The double hitch assembly speeds up attachment and has numerous benefits when raising the bar for turns. Using rear linkage hook ends allows the driver to attach the machine easily on their own and then it’s just a matter of connecting one set of hydraulic hoses to the remotes.

One set of remotes is all that’s required to operate the transport wheels up and down.

Attaching to the linkage arms pushes the pivot between the tractor and the drill further back behind the tractor, which in turn allows a much tighter turning circle.

Another benefit is that the drill can be raised both at the rear on the transport wheels and at the front on the linkage arms giving it great clearance during headland turning and through drains.

Quick to attach means quick to work and because it’s only a maximum 3m wide you can fit through virtually any farm gate. Depending on travel distance you can be in the paddock and sowing in a matter of minutes.

The machine rests on a couple of support legs attached to the front, which keeps the hitch point raised and ready for easy reattachment.

 

Maintenance

Maintenance is a breeze. The parallelogram assembly has sealed pivot points with nylon bushes. The press wheels require greasing every 150ha of work.

Off the shelf sealed bearings are used in the sowing discs and the only daily maintenance requirements are applying a bit of grease to the spring release drive clutch.

 

Positive feedback

"This drill has made our operation here much more productive in many ways," James says.

"I can start sowing earlier in the season because the double disc openers slice into even the hardest ground beautifully. I can get seed in the ground early before the weeds have even germinated.

"I used to sow at about 10km/h with my old Duncan drill but I am now sowing at speeds of around 15km/h and because it cuts through the ground so easily I’m using no more fuel than before This is where I am making good savings through higher output for less cost.

"Each sowing row moves independently with its own press wheel for depth control so I am confident every seed is placed exactly where it should be, which I assume equates to a higher germination rate.

"At around the mid $70 000 mark, I think it is one of the best investments we have made. I love the fact that I can calibrate it quickly and make the most of a window of opportunity to sow. From an engineer’s point of view I can’t identify a weak spot on the drill anywhere."

 

Verdict

I cannot fault the Kuhn SDE 3000. In my opinion it’s the best I have seen and I am rapt that Alister James’ experience with it has supported my initial gut feeling.

Hits:

  • Adjustable bin divider
  • Telescopic delivery tubes
  • Parallelogram sowing assembly
  • Operating speed
  • Unbreakable
  • Double hitch
  • Bin sensors
  • Stainless components

Misses:

  • No guidance mechanism

 

Specifications

Make/Model: Kuhn SDE 3000 seed drill

Type: Double disc on parallelogram

Hitch: Trailing

No. of Rows: 19

Row spacings: 15.8cm

Working width: 3m

Seed capacity: 640 litres

Fertiliser capacity: 740 litres

Approx. weight: 3,200kg

 

For the full test report, pick up a copy of New Farm Machinery magazine issue 23, on-sale June 22.

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