Review: Allen Custom Drill H-D 6000

By: Jaiden Drought

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The Allen Custom Drill H-D 6000 incorporates some clever design elements. The Allen Custom Drill H-D 6000 incorporates some clever design elements. The Allen Custom Drill H-D 6000 incorporates some clever design elements.
The hydraulic down pressure ensures even disc penetration The hydraulic down pressure ensures even disc penetration The hydraulic down pressure ensures even disc penetration
The front pivoting turbo discs. The front pivoting turbo discs. The front pivoting turbo discs.
The H-D 6000 in full flight. The H-D 6000 in full flight. The H-D 6000 in full flight.
The seeding bar is adjusted in three sections rather than each coulter which is a considerable time saver. The seeding bar is adjusted in three sections rather than each coulter which is a considerable time saver. The seeding bar is adjusted in three sections rather than each coulter which is a considerable time saver.
In-cab controllers help keep the drill in check. In-cab controllers help keep the drill in check. In-cab controllers help keep the drill in check.

Machinery tester Jaiden Drought puts the Allen Custom Drill H-D 6000 to the test, a unit that accurately drills in both cultivated and direct-drilled ground.


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As the name suggests, the company offers a set of drills, which can be customised for each client. The beauty of being New Zealand owned and operated is that customers can deal directly with Craig. He designs the drills, is on site monitoring manufacturing, as well as travelling and selling the machines, and offering an impressive back-up service.

This latest offering aimed at the competitive contracting market is a drill which accurately drills in both cultivated and direct drilled ground. As machinery is becoming more expensive, there is a greater demand from contractors to do both with one machine. These efficiencies are where the Allen’s drill sets itself apart, as a lot of the European machines cultivate the ground with disc incorporators. However this machine is specifically targeted towards conditions seen in the broad acre arable conditions seen in New Zealand and across the ditch in Australia.

The Kamac family bought the Allen drill due mainly to its simplicity and build quality. "The cost upfront is offset by the low ongoing running and maintenance costs," says Horne. "Having traded up from a six-metre drill which had given me good service, repair and maintenance costs were starting to become an ongoing issue."

Features

Working width

Allen Custom Drills HD (heavy-duty) series is available in four-, five-, and six-metre sowing widths, with five-inch (127mm) or six-inch (152mm) row spacings. All fold up to a road compliant three-metre transport width.

Metering system/in-cab monitor

Like all other Allen Custom Drills, the Accord metering and distribution system is a feature. Additionally the RDS Artemis electronic rate control is fitted, giving the machine the auto calibration feature as well as the ability to vary the seed rate on the move. The calibration is as simple as placing a container under the meter, filling to the desired level with prime button (mounted on side of machine) and weighing the contents, then typing the weight into the monitor. This process only needs to be done two or three times. Sowing rates from 500g to 400kg/ha are achievable.

The digital controller in the cab has a large easy-to-read screen, with an uncomplicated menu and keypad for typing your information into. Main features include covering fan RPM, ground speed, sowing rate and hectares drilled, as well as a cumulative total.

A cab diverter box for folding and unfolding reduces the need for two more sets of spools over the four already required. A monitor for the stocks AG chemical/ additional small seed box and the slug bait box are also neatly mounted in the cluster of monitors.

Large custom ball end to suit 50mm drawbar pin.

Hopper

The hopper is a key feature on this drill, with the nifty movable partition ideal for contractors, particularly going between jobs with a variety of different seed/fert combinations. The movable partition allows the bin to be adjusted to fit the job. The box is made from 3mm pressed steel, then zinc-shielded and powder-coat finished – cheaper than and just as effective as stainless steel.

Access to the bin is a bit of a gripe for me on most of these large drills. While I know that to fill up is not an issue for large half ton or ton bags, but if 40kg bags have to be heaved up onto the platform I suspect you may be looking to do something creative with the crane, possibly a small hopper on feet with chute which can be sat on ground to fill with small bags then lifted over the drill hopper with the crane.

Crane/hydraulic fan

Loading the hopper on this particular machine is easy with a mounted crane which can lift up to one tonne. The controls for this are located on the left-hand side of the drill and are controlled via a three-bank hydraulic control unit, activated when the tap is switched from the hydraulic fan to run the crane.

Another option fitted was the oil cooler, which keeps transmission oil on the tractor cool when large volumes of air are required for high fert rates. It also doubles as a heat pump type device, where warm air makes both the seed and fert travel easily through the air lines; particularly helpful for stopping fert sticking in the hoses. The drill distribution heads are mounted high out the rear of the hopper, allowing air and gravity to work together so the seed, fert and/or bait free falls to the coulters, eliminating the risk of blocked hoses.

Front discs/rear seed coulters

With the Allen Custom Drills unique drawbar system, weight from the tractor can be transferred onto the front pivoting rubber mounted ‘turbo’ discs, creating disc pressure of up to 300kg per disc. The machine uses the proven triple disc system, although not like many other machines on the market. The triple disc system works for direct drilling by the front disc creating the slot, the rear double discs are angled to create a groove that the seed and fert are dropped into, and then the press wheel closes the slot; creating ideal growing conditions.

For work in cultivated ground like our test, the front discs are raised slightly but still just in the ground to create a nice bit of fluffy tilth. The packer wheels in front of the seeding bar are lowered to lightly consolidate the seedbed before the parallelogram design of the rear seeders allows each of the coulters to move independently for consistent seed depth. A large spring keeps constant pressure on the discs to cut into hard ground but also allows them to move independently.

The seeding bar can be easily adjusted thanks to its top link design.

The seeding bar has three adjustment sections with a top link design and a large hex nut (and a spanner on the machine) to quickly adjust without the need for fiddly individual adjustments on each coulter. Row spacing is an optional five or six inches, although 10 or 12 inches and 15 or 18 inches are achievable by running every second or third coulter respectively.

The verdict

This machine is nothing like other cultivation drills on the market. It is so simple, yet packed with clever features. It’s no fluke that the drill sells itself. Direct drill one minute and cultivated ground the next, which a lot of European drills are not able to do. Another major benefit of the Allen Custom Drill is the low running cost at about $5-6 per hectare. This is less than half of what some other contractors are paying running other disc drills.

Allen Custom Drills parts are all off the shelf, with metric bolts, etc. You pay more up front but running costs are lower and, in such a competitive market, you need one drill which does the lot. One of my favourite sayings is that quality remains long after price is forgotten. This is definitely the case with the H-D Series drills.

Pros

  • Auto calibration with variable seed rate on the move
  • Large hopper with movable partition is ideal for a variety of different seed/fert combos
  • Seeding coulter design is very simple with few moving parts and plenty of travel
  • Ability to customise the drill with a range of options to suit your operation
  • Heavy tare weight for penetrating dry hard ground (test machine 12,500kg)
  • Pivoting front discs
  • The silver fern logo cut into the main chassis is a nice touch
  • Ability to work in both cultivated and non-cultivated ground

Cons

  • The steps and platform are sufficient for large bags but 40kg bags would be a struggle


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