Making weight work with the Alstrong Auctus
Contrary to popular trends, Alan believes that weight, combined with speed, can be a key component to re-establishing a sward, either on a burnt-off field or tilled ground.
Penetration is key to Auctus
His reasoning behind this belief is that many machines which are sold to the job do not posses enough weight to penetrate the soil and so provide sufficient tilth in which to plant the seed.
Cultivating the ground before reseeding will add cost as it requires at least two passes, and, if ploughed, the top, and most fertile layer of soil, gets buried.
The answer, he suggests, is to go in and hit the ground hard with an implement that levels and cultivates the soil surface before applying the seed, which is then rolled in.
That is the basic mechanism behind the Auctus which employs a series of levelling tines, a bladed roller, grass tines and then a prismatic roller to finish the job.
The grass seed is applied immediately after the grass tines by fan jet that directs it down onto the soil in a controlled manner before the roller consolidates the tilth.
One happy customer of the company is contractor Mike Collins of Freemount, Co. Cork who purchased an early model five seasons ago and has traded it in for the latest version this year.
The Auctus has undergone a series of improvements during that period and Agriland took the opportunity to see how this latest version was working in the field.
We caught up with Mike one evening as he prepared to repair a storm-ravaged reseed on the farm of Kieran Murphy who runs a dairy herd on higher ground in the area.
Consolidation, not compaction
The ground had already been tilled for the original stitching, so what was required of the Auctus was a surface cultivation before the seed was placed and then the soil consolidated around it.
As part of the process the bladed roller would also aerate the root zone, creating a series of pockets of cultivated soil in which the seeds can establish a root system below the surface level.
As with the Alstrong Aerator the whole operation is dependent on speed and with 195hp available, there was a rapid rate of progress over across the field, leaving a fine corrugated finish with the seeds well mixed into the soil rather than on top of it.
It might be thought that the large roller would compact the ground but when in work the weight is supported by the blades, leaving only the rear prismatic roller to weigh down upon the surface as it packs the soil around the seed.
Doyle air seeder
A Doyle Engineering air seeder is used to meter the seed which is blown against a fan plate before dropping to the soil; this, it is claimed, gives a more even distribution of the seed.
The seeding unit is controlled from the cab and automatically adjusts the metering to match the forward speed, ensuring a constant seed rate.
The proof of the pudding is in the the eating and it will take a few weeks before the success of the reseed can be judged, yet Kieran was enthusiastic about the general appearance of the job and he was impressed by the speed and efficiency in which it was completed.
A mounted version of the Auctus is available, without the rear packing roller.
However, this makes reseeding a two-pass task which is why Mike Collins prefers the trailed version, he needs to visit the field just the once.