The tri­fecta

Allen Cus­tom Drills CD 3000

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Contents -


fter months of rain in many parts of New Zealand, I was scep­ti­cal about the con­di­tions head­ing to Hawke’s Bay to see ma­chin­ery from Allen Cus­tom Drills in ac­tion.

How­ever, it was a com­plete con­trast to what I’d been used to, with no sight of mud, pug­ging or tor­ren­tial rain. In­stead I got sun­burnt, which was a sur­prise.

Mike Ket­tle Con­tract­ing, just south of Hast­ings, was my des­ti­na­tion to check out the new Allen Cus­tom Drills CD 3000 di­rect triple-disc drill, which is now the third one in his fleet.

Two 6190R John Deere trac­tors with duals pull the 3m CD 3000 drills around the coun­try­side.

A lot of steep coun­try has be­come the norm, with hor­ti­cul­ture and viti­cul­ture tak­ing over the flat­ter plains in many ar­eas of Hawke’s Bay. This is push­ing agri­cul­tural drilling into steeper coun­try as the land on the flats is cost pro­hib­i­tive for tra­di­tional dairy, beef or sheep farm­ing.

There’s al­ways the at­trac­tion to go wider when it comes to drilling. How­ever, be­cause th­ese drills are so heavy – which is a pos­i­tive when it comes to build qual­ity and ground pen­e­tra­tion – the neg­a­tive is that pulling it around the hills can end up in a situation where the tail is wag­ging the dog.

Mike did have a 4m drill that he used for a large dairy con­tract on flat ar­eas. How­ever, it be­came an is­sue on the hills and he de­cided to change his line-up to three 3m drills, all from Allen Cus­tom Drills. He knows he can send them any­where and that his team can in­ter­change the gear with all com­mon parts and zero hassles.


The New Zealand-de­signed and -made Allen’s CD 3000 fea­tures a 3m drill width and 5-inch row spac­ing which works well for Mike and his two driv­ers, Andy and Tim.

Andy was driv­ing the brand-new ma­chine that was on its first out­ing to wear some paint off. The drill Tim was us­ing was eight years old and, although it has al­ready cov­ered 8500ha of tough coun­try, it’s still a sound, re­li­able ma­chine given some of the chal­leng­ing con­di­tions.

The ma­chines are sim­i­lar, though over the eight years be­tween them there have been some sub­tle changes as you would ex­pect: hy­draulic me­ter­ing in­stead of elec­tric, cast par­al­lel­o­gram com­po­nents as op­posed to hand­made, and a hy­draulic draw­bar to al­low more con­tour fol­low­ing in the rough coun­try.

The new ma­chine has a fixed draw­bar but a piv­ot­ing head­stock, as well as two-point link­age mount­ing, so you can lift the link­age arms up and down if you’re in chal­leng­ing coun­try. Oth­er­wise, the piv­ot­ing head­stock will give you all the con­tour fol­low­ing you need and a bet­ter turn­ing cir­cle with duals.


Over­all, the Al­lens’ build qual­ity is un­ques­tion­able. As Mike says about the old one: “It’s done a lot of work. It’s eight years old and we sim­ply don’t fix it. It’s still do­ing the job we bought it for orig­i­nally. Chas­sis-wise, it’s sound with no crack­ing.

“It sim­ply looks as good as the day it came out of the fac­tory, which is a tes­ta­ment to the orig­i­nal build qual­ity.”

Such con­fi­dence in the brand is demon­strated by the fact that Mike has pur­chased three ma­chines from Allen Cus­tom Drills.

“I know the coun­try I’m deal­ing with, I know what the drills are ca­pa­ble of, and the sys­tem works. They are not cheap drills but I’m a big be­liever of get­ting what you pay for.”

The CD 3000 is a good mid-size drill for Mike Ket­tle Con­tract­ing. The team can just plug away with a 3m drill with­out need­ing a mas­sive trac­tor on the front, and then they can do har­vest­ing work in sum­mer. Also, Mike doesn’t have a mas­sive out­lay in terms of large-frame trac­tors for climb­ing around the hills, which are too big for the rest of the year.


A key fea­ture of any triple-disc drill is its abil­ity to pen­e­trate hard ground, which is of­ten the case in the Hawke’s Bay re­gion.

I reckon an­other great fea­ture of the Allen Cus­tom Drill is the ma­chine’s weight. The drill coulter has three set­tings for down pres­sure de­pend­ing on the type of ground be­ing worked, as well as two turn buck­les for ad­just­ing the drilling depth across the whole ma­chine.

With the com­bi­na­tion of a triple disc sys­tem, the front turbo disc (rub­ber tor­sion mounted) cre­ates the tilth, the rear dou­ble discs are an­gled to cre­ate a groove that seed and fer­tiliser are dropped into, and a press wheel closes the slot – a sim­ple and ef­fec­tive op­er­a­tion.

Har­rows on the back smooth out any bumps that the drill leaves. Trainer wheels out the side work well in steep coun­try, adding ex­tra sta­bil­ity on the slopes. They fold in to en­sure the ma­chine is road le­gal. The larger trans­port wheels take the

weight of the drill to re­duce scuff­ing at head­lands turn­ing. Mud­guards, LED lights and the tow bar nicely round out the back of the unit.


Be­fore you get to the hoppers, a smart-look­ing one-tonne-rated crane is tucked up on the load­ing plat­form which is spa­cious, sim­ple, and equipped with a fold-down lad­der. Although the load­ing height of the main plat­form is quite high, you can still throw bags of seed up from the ground at a man­age­able level.

The test ma­chine had a split main hop­per and two Stocks Ag spin­ners. The main ben­e­fit of four dif­fer­ent seed boxes is that this al­lows drilling of Ital­ian rye­grass and then clover. This al­lows the farmer to save mix­ing costs, but the big ben­e­fit is that you can bury the grass seeds slightly deeper for drier coun­try. This gives bet­ter seed-to-soil con­tact.


Like all other Allen Cus­tom Drills, the Ac­cord me­ter­ing and dis­tri­bu­tion sys­tem has been fur­ther en­hanced with RDS Artemis elec­tronic rate con­trol with auto cal­i­bra­tion. This makes it sim­ple to cal­i­brate ac­cu­rate seed­ing rates from un­der 500g to more than 400kg/ha.

The lat­est RDS Iso­can ter­mi­nal with 7-inch touch­screen has the abil­ity to run the four hoppers (seed, fert, and the two Stocks AG slug and clover speed­ers).

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

The key difference on the new ma­chine is that it’s a lot eas­ier to get around for cal­i­brat­ing. The cal­i­bra­tion tray slots in nicely and is un­clut­tered. An­other bonus is that, for me­ter­ing out seed at the end of the job, you sim­ply sit a sack un­der­neath. It couldn’t be eas­ier.


Stand­out fea­tures of the Allen CD 3000 drill are build qual­ity, a well-proven triple disc sys­tem, and the ac­cu­rate RDS Artemis con­troller/me­ter­ing sys­tem.

For Mike Ket­tle, the main driv­ers be­hind hav­ing three of th­ese drills are their low run­ning costs and solid build, which means they can keep do­ing the hectares.

The other ma­jor ben­e­fit is the use of generic off-the-shelf re­place­ment parts, which keep over­all cost of own­er­ship to a min­i­mum. Out­lay­ing this amount of money for a ma­chine works out to be an ef­fec­tive in­vest­ment in the long run.

The low cost of on­go­ing own­er­ship and the drilling re­sults on chal­leng­ing steep coun­try makes the CD 3000 a no-brainer.

Jaiden Drought checks out the Allen Cus­tom Drills CD 3000 con­tour di­rect drill, a triple-disc model which is prov­ing pop­u­lar due to its sim­plic­ity, weight and ac­cu­racy Pho­tos by Justin Ben­nett

1. Mike Ket­tle Con­tract­ing’s Allen CD 3000 drill

2. Seed and fert dis­tri­bu­tion heads are mounted high out


3. The large hy­drauli­cally driven fan

4. It has a solid and ro­bust de­sign

5. Split hop­per for seed and fert

6. Re­viewer Jaiden Drought on the CD 3000’s eas­ily

ac­ces­si­ble load­ing plat­form

7. With eight years of work al­ready done, Mike’s older drill con­tin­ues

to clock up hours

8. The new RDS ISO­CAN ter­mi­nal runs up to four bins

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