REVIEW: Duncan Ag Enviro 3000E seed drill review

By: Jaiden Drought

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New Zealand correspondent JAIDEN DROUGHT tests yet another Duncan drill and is particularly impressed by its contour following and seed placement.

REVIEW: Duncan Ag Enviro 3000E seed drill review
Duncan Ag's Enviro 3000E drill is the company's flagship triple disc machine with a 3.1-metre working width.
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I have tested enough Duncan Ag drills to know this is a name synonymous with build quality and strength.

The company has a long heritage dating back to the pioneers of rural New Zealand when it was known as the Clough brand.

On a recent trip to Canterbury I caught up with the team at Waller Direct Drilling of Geraldine that just purchased their third Duncan Enviro 3000e drill and are more than happy with the results.

The first question I was curious to ask was why they were sticking with the conventional gravity box drill, particularly when sowing fine seeds such as turnips.

Using air as opposed to a gravity drill makes cleaning the hopper significantly easier and the working width is able to be significantly wider and hill country shelving is no longer an issue.

When I arrived I met Brian Waller and the drills operator Brett Ryan who was pulling it along with a new T4 series Valtra making it a very smart-looking unit.

The magpie in me got a little distracted by the shiny black tractor, but once back on track I was able to ask the burning question – why not go to air? Brian Waller’s answer is simple: reliability and accuracy.

Having owned two drills previously and having covered over 4000ha each year, this is a man who knows a thing or two about drilling.

 

Enviro 3000E overview

Duncan Enviro7

The Enviro 3000e, which is Duncan Ag’s flagship triple disc machine, comes in four-, five- or six-inch row spacing (27/23/19 run) all with a 3.1-metre working width for superior contour following and accuracy.

It comes standard with two 650L boxes for flexibility; with either seed combinations, or seed in one box and fertiliser in the other.

One or two extra small seed boxes can be specified or a small electric spinner for slug bait as was found on our test machine.

The Enviro has large steel plates on the side which gives the drill a solid-looking appearance and considering the amount of steel on the inside of these plates, it is little wonder they have so much penetration success in hard, abrasive ground conditions.

There are four rear transport wheels with ram shims to adjust sowing pressure.

Regardless of row spacing, both the opening disc and double sowing discs are independently sprung, which offers very good contour following ability and very accurate seeding results (this also requires a lot of grease nipples, something I will touch on later).

 

Seed and metering

Duncan Enviro4

To achieve the top notch accuracy they are renowned for, the 3000e uses electric drive and radar for accurate ground speed and area measurement, with seed rates controlled proportionally to ground speed.

Any variations of sowing rates are changed at the touch of a button.

The seed flow from the boxes is a peg roller system with two different wheels to handle both small and large seed; from turnip and rape, through to peas and maize and everything in between including direct drilling fodder beet.

As soon as the transport wheels are lifted or lowered, the seeding start and stop is done via a magnetic cut-out sensor mounted on the right-hand wheel arm’s hydraulic ram.

To minimise seed wastage during raising and lowering, the sensor can be adjusted up or down on the ram to suit the sowing depth and ground conditions.

 

Coulters and contour following

Duncan Enviro6

Like all triple disc drills the front disc makes the initial cut (preferably 20mm below the double disc depth), followed by the double ‘V’ disc which creates a slot forming the seed bed.

The seed and fertiliser is metred down the tubes and the slot is then closed and compacted with the press wheel which follows and also determines the seed depth.

Scrapers are fitted on the rear of the double discs which helps prevent soil build-up on the inside face of the disc.

The press wheels are also equipped with a scraper to maintain optimum performance in sticky conditions.

Essentially there are two different ground pressure adjustments; the rear transport wheels give the coulter pressure while the sowing depth is controlled by adjusting the rubber tyre press wheels by tweaking the jaw lock pin on the top of the wheel.

When the going gets really tough, the large double acting drawbar ram allows easy adjustment and greater contour following in rough terrain and more weight on the front coulter.

If more undercut is required (usually when the ground is particularly hard), the front coulter beam can be lowered.

 

Calibration

Duncan Ag Enviro 3000E Seed Drill

Unlike some machines that require you to turn the handle 29 times while standing on one leg facing west, calibration on the Enviro 3000e is electric and therefore simple and accurate.

All it takes is an easy five-step process using the RDS in-cab monitor:

  1. Remove the calibration trays from the brackets on the front box and place them in the holding bracket below the seeder.
  2. Push down all the clear plastic seed deflectors to redirect the seed into the calibration trays and ensure all the shutters are open.
  3. Set the rate on the computer based on the seed chart, (the more product you prime out the greater the accuracy).
  4. Weigh the seed. Tell the computer how much the weight was and it will then work out the weight based on how many turns it did to give you a per hectare rate, which you then accept or re-do.
  5. Replace the calibration trays, shut the shutters and start drilling.

 

The verdict

There is no denying this is a very well-constructed drill and the triple disc option really is the one for contractors moving away from tine drills.

The move to air and larger working widths is really what has seen the movement to the European drill manufacturers, although the accuracy and contour following of this drill is exceptional and is easily on par with its European counterparts.

Duncan Ag has a custom folding 4.5m triple disc air version of the 3000e in Central Otago.

Air would be a particularly good option on these drills which then allows the addition of wings to give an increased working width to achieve greater efficiency, and the ease of seed swapping between jobs for contractors.

The thing I would most like to see added to the 3000e is an automatic greaser for all the pins and bushes on the undercarriage, and I know this would be expensive but at least you know it is being done, put simply – it’s a pretty big job.

Hits

  • Contour following
  • Seed spacing option from 4-6"
  • Triple disc gives very good seed accuracy from controlled seed placement
  • Build like the proverbial
  • Double acting drawbar ram gives more manoeuvrability in challenging conditions
  • Rear hydraulic chain harrows and the crane on the test machine were both worthwhile

Misses

  • The sheer number of grease nipples

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