Maize machine adds flexibility to Mid Wales sheep farm

To tackle more corn planting without tying up one of his biggest tractors, farmer and contractor Steven Ward chose to invest in a Kuhn Kosma.

The lightweight planter has proven to be a worthwhile investment, giving him flexibility in machine use and precision corn planting that he considers equivalent to larger, more expensive machines.

Mr Ward farms with his father in central Wales, near the border with England. The family farm has 800 breeding ewes, mostly Welsh Mountain, and the outgrower farms 800 acres that include grassland and silage corn, with winter wheat and stubble turnips used as break crops.

The local land is well suited to growing water-hungry maize and he plants 500 acres a year, some of which is planted along the Afon Tanat River.

Drilling begins in late April and in 2022 he put the Kosma to work on the 25th. Corn is sold to local farmers as a standing crop and demand is increasing as farms look for more nutritious feed alternatives to reduce the reliance on expensive inputs.

“I’ve done two seasons with the Kosma now, and it’s a reliable, easy-to-use machine. I started thinking I needed an eight row machine, but six rows is enough for the area I need to sow. It easily covers 70-80 acres per day, so I wouldn’t really have benefited from a larger, more expensive model,” he says.

His choice also reflects the tractors he has in his fleet. He runs six John Deeres and a Claas. However, demand for his higher horsepower tractors led him to turn to lighter corn drills that wouldn’t require one of the larger tractors.

“We do a lot of grassland work using Kuhn butterfly mowers and a Claas 870 forage harvester and we also offer umbilical slurry spreading. This means more powerful tractors are in demand and I didn’t want to attach one to a maize planter,” he says.

The Kosma is used with a John Deere 6130R, which makes the torque light and nimble. The tractor has enough horsepower to run the drill, even on some of the hilliest terrain Mr. Ward faces.

This frees up larger tractors to do harrowing, mowing and hauling work.

“I particularly appreciate his behavior at the end of the field. Section control is precise, reducing seed loss and making it easier to turn on the headland. I had no intention of buying a machine with section control, but because the Kosma has an electric drive, there wasn’t much need to spec it, and I’m glad I did.

When the Kosma was delivered by local dealer Rea Valley Tractors, the sales engineer helped him set up section control, set the field markers to the correct width, and set the depth for seed placement and fertilizers.

The Kosma is connected to the tractor’s Isobus and the settings are intuitive and easy to manage.

“I have the same technology as the bigger machines, without the weight and dependence on a bigger tractor. It would be nice if Kuhn came out with wider wheels as I find the Kosma’s a bit narrow for the soft ground I tend to work on but, overall, I prefer the lighter weight as that partly makes up for it the small footprint of the tires.

Being a lighter machine and running on a smaller tractor, it also saves fuel. This also does not come at the expense of the precision of the seeding and he is also satisfied with the way the fertilizer is applied by the Kosma.

“I find that the placement of granular fertilizer works well. The fans seem to distribute it well and I think we get the most out of the fertilizer we use when planting. »

The Kosma benefits from the same seeding unit as the larger Maxima seeder, but a 95 kilo lighter row unit, 25 kilos less than the Maxima, means less horsepower required.

The Kuhn Kosma adds flexibility.

The frame design also provides 20-30% more lifting capacity than the Maxima. This reduces fuel consumption and soil compaction.

“I often find conditions quite soft when it comes to planting in April. However, being able to use the lighter tractor and the Kosma is a huge help, especially on riverbanks and hilly terrain, as it feels more nimble and responsive,” he concludes.