First Year of Claydon Drill

August 16, 2009

In Autumn2008 we took the plunge and purchased a Claydon Drill.  The move from using a plough and powerharrow/drill combination to Direct Drilling was quite a radical step not least because the previous attempt at Direct Drilling in the 1970’s was not successful (as my father has pointed out on more than one occasion).  The move to Direct Drilling was partly due to reduce the number of field operations and thereby lowering costs but also an attempt to improve soil structure.  The farm is predominately heavy clay and any machinery passing over the soil will cause compaction.  Compaction will often lead to water logged soils and poor root penetration and result in a loss of yield.  The theory is that by avoiding ploughing and breaking down the soil with a power harrow, the Direct Drill will allow the soil to ’self structure’. However I don’t know if that theory works in practice.  I hope to monitor the soil structure and compare it with fields prepared under the old system to see if there is a difference. Ultimately the test will be crop yield.  If the yield of wheat harvested in lower under the Direct Drill system then the benefits of a reduced number of machinery passes or improved soil structure will not be sustainable.

We started the wheat harvest yesterday and have combined 2 fields, one established by Direct Drilling and one by ploughing and then using a powerharrow / combination drill.  Both fields were planted to a wheat variety called ‘Battalion’, both were second wheats and both yielded 3.3 tonnes / acre.  Clearly not a scientific study but an encouraging result!!


One Response to “First Year of Claydon Drill”

  1. Peter Day on November 15th, 2010 1:01 pm

    Christopher, I am fascinated to read your comments re the Claydon drill. I am very interested in the machine myself, but possibly, like you to begin with, a little uneasy on looking at the wide row spacing. Are you still happy with having made the move to direct drilling and are your yields no worse than with your previous system? Would you recommend it for heavy clay cap with flints in Hampshire and some chalk on one end of the Estate? Do you think your soil structure & worms have improved? Would be very grateful for any comments you can suggest on the matter. Thank you.
    Regards, Peter

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