Clever Kiwi Allen Custom Drills H-D 6000
Machinery tester Jaiden Drought tries the New Zealand-made Allen Custom Drills H-D 6000, a unit that accurately drills in both cultivated and direct-drilled ground
As the name suggests, New Zealand’s Allen Custom Drills offers a set of drills which can be customised for each client. Craig Allen designs the drills, monitors manufacturing, and travels and sells the machines. He also offers an impressive back-up service.
This latest offering, aimed at the competitive contracting market, is a drill that 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 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 broadacre arable conditions in New Zealand and across the ditch in Australia. We’re testing a H-D 6000 owned by the Kamac family, who bought the drill due mainly to its simplicity and build quality.
“The cost upfront is offset by the low ongoing running and maintenance costs,” Kamac Contracting owner Cameron Horne says.
“I traded up from a six-metre drill which had given me good service, [but] repair and maintenance costs were starting to become an ongoing issue”.
FEATURES Working width
Allen Custom Drills’ H-D (heavy-duty) series is available in 4m, 5m and 6m sowing widths, with 5-inch (127mm) or 6-inch (152mm) row spacings. All fold up to a road-compliant 3m transport width.
Metering system/in-cab monitor
Like all other Allen Custom Drills products, 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 per hectare 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 revolutions per minute, 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 stock’s ag chemical/additional small seed box and the slug bait box are also neatly mounted in the cluster of monitors.
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/ fertiliser 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 – which is 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-tonne or tonne 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 that can be sat on ground to fill with small bags then lifted over the drill hopper with the crane.
Loading the hopper on this particular machine is easy with a mounted crane that 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 on the test unit was the oil cooler, which keeps transmission oil on the tractor cool when large volumes of air are required for high fertiliser rates. It also doubles as a heat pump-type device, where warm air makes both the seed and fertiliser travel easily through the air lines – particularly helpful for stopping fertiliser 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, fertiliser and/or bait freefalls to the coulters, eliminating the risk of blocked hoses.
Front discs/rear seed coulters
With Allen Custom Drills’ 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 fertiliser 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 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 BOTTOM LINE
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 Drills H-D 6000 is the low running cost at about $5-$6 per hectare. This is less than half of what some other contractors are paying by running other disc drills.
Allen Custom Drills parts are all off the shelf, with metric bolts, etc. You pay more upfront but running costs are lower and, in such a competitive market, you need one drill that 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.
The New Zealand-made Allen Custom Drills H-D 6000 cultivation drill
1: The front pivoting turbo discs
2: In-cab controllers help keep the
drill in check
3: The front disc depth is controlled
by a hydraulic drawbar
4: Large custom ball end to suit
50mm drawbar pin
5: The seeding bar is adjusted in three sections rather than each coulter, which is a considerable time saver
6: The H-D 6000 in full flight
7: Large transport wheels in the middle of the drill help reduce headland size with a tight turning circle
8: It’s no fluke that the drill