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

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Contents -

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.

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/ 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.

Crane/hy­draulic fan

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.

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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

sells it­self

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