Cover story: Moore Unidrill arrives in NZ

By: Mark Fouhy


Farm Trader tests the Moore Unidrill that has recently been introduced into the New Zealand market by Agrilife

Based in Northern Ireland, Moore boasts 45 years’ experience around drill manufacturing.

The latest Moore Unidrill release is a new bag of tricks, with the seed tube coulter arrangement being the only thing carried over from the previous model. This was widely regarded as the best system available, and the rest of the machine has come about through direct customer feedback.

About Moore Unidrill

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The Moore Unidrill has been developed to work in a variety of conditions. Although we had short grass and wet conditions on the day of our test, the Unidrill has also happily worked its way through a field of mustard (around half a metre tall) with no problems at all.

The Moore Unidrill has been tested across a variety of direct drilling scenarios to work out how best to operate and achieve optimum results. Manufactured in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, the family-owned Moore business has been making direct drills since 1973 to suit grassland, arable, and sports turf situations. Production of the arable drills has moved to Sumo in the United Kingdom, with the turf and grassland Unidrill still produced in Antrim.

During my years as a Farm Trader machinery tester, I have learned that Irish machinery manufacturers seem to like to build things strong, which is perfectly suited to our rugged New Zealand conditions and makes the Moore Unidrill an ideal piece of kit for Kiwi farmers and contractors.

The test

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Like many parts of the county, the Waikato has had somewhat of a trying time this winter and spring, and the paddocks we chose to test the new Moore Unidrill have been through the ringer. In late summer/autumn, they were re-grassed twice and then flooded during subsequent cyclones. Then there were severe frosts followed by relentless rain. Finally, after a break in the weather, we were able to have a crack at the job we had lined up for testing the Moore Unidrill.

Built to last, linkage mounted, and weighing in at 2300kg without extra ballast, I would suggest operating the Moore Unidrill with a tractor of 130hp or more, with a few weights on the front. The 180hp John Deere 7530 we used was hooked up and we headed down the farm race near Walton. With water still accumulated in areas, I was pretty sure we were going to challenge the capabilities of this new machine. My thoughts were correct and the going was far from ideal.

Once set up, we got to it. The paddock was better in some parts than others. The rear Guttler roller did well in the wet parts and although it did gather some wet soil, particularly on the right wheel track, when we got to a drier area of the paddock, this quickly cleared itself, thanks to the two different-sized Prisma rings. The smaller 45cm ring fits firmly on the shaft, while the larger 50cm ring runs on the inner shoulder, creating a cleaning action.

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The rubber tyre option may have struggled to clear itself in the less than ideal conditions. When we put it under pressure in unsuitable conditions and blocked it up with wet mud and soil, it was as simple as lifting it off the ground to clear and be ready to work again, thankfully not requiring half hour of digging it out by hand (I’ve experienced this before with other drills).

The hydraulic depth adjustment on the rear roller means you can operate the drill with the disc coulters completely out of the ground, and the 90mm row spacing gives a similar quality to a standard roller drill. You could leave as is or shift the set up so the seed tubes drop seed behind the packer roller.

With the super heavy frame, a drawbar and a rubber tyre roller could easily be added to convert into a roll seed roll unit for turnips or other small seed crops.

Operation 

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A canvas top keeps moisture and dirt out of the Kverneland Accord hopper used by Moore on the Unidrill. With two steps and a safety rail to lean on, it’s pretty straightforward to get seed up and into the 700-litre hopper.

After arriving at the paddock for sowing, we simply set the depth we wanted our grass seed planted. Controlled using the rear roller with the disc coulters in the ground, a scale on the right of the machine provides a quick reference. The factor to consider is top linkage length. This ensures both the front and rear rows of discs are working at the same depth. A pointer plumb weight has been added on the left side to show this.

Once this is all set, you just need to engage the mechanical metering wheel from where it’s in transport position. Mounted on the left of the drill, sowing anti-clockwise on your first round allows you to get closer to the fence line. The metering wheel drives a counter in at the base of the seed hopper to show the hectares sown.

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Calibrating the drill is done by swapping the metering wheel with the crank handle. To adjust calibration, a threaded rod with a scale on the right of the hopper gives a rough guide. To fine tune, weighing 0.1 of a hectare and checking with scales is done by removing the main airflow line, taking the seed to the distribution head, and collecting with a callibration bin underneath. Red colour-coded components indicate what needs changing for switching to small seeds. This is super easy, requiring just three steps. The whole operation is pretty straightforward with plenty of room to get the bin in and out and no tools required.

Any seed left over can be let out via a trap door on the bottom of the hopper. This takes less than a minute and is ideal for contractors moving onto different jobs or changing seed varieties. Being a Kverneland Accord hopper, this system will be familiar to many already.

For the seeding disc coulter arrangement, quality European bearings mount the 410mm diameter/5mm thick boron discs, chosen for its hard-wearing ability. A single-mounting leg incorporates the long-life tungsten tipped coulter. This design allows Moore a competitive edge in the direct drill market, with the ability to offer a 90mm row spacing across a 2.9-metre sowing width and a three-metre transport width.

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The flat disc, with small scallops, is mounted on a slight angle. This gives drive to the disc as it slices through the soil and whatever pasture or forage cover there may be, and also loosens and provide tilth in the seedbed when followed by the packer roller.

It also allows optimal seed/soil contact and high germination rates. With 32 discs in the ground, for best results, the Moore Unidrill works in straight lines but can also handle slight cornering. Being linkage mounted makes it manoeuvrable around the paddock. I found that on corners, it’s best to lift it out of the ground and then carry on.

Operating in this way will also decrease wear on the machine, prolonging the life of the discs, coulters, and bearings. One of the only downsides of operating in straight lines is that the smooth tidy cuts it made in the pasture made it hard to see where we had been.

Options

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With the Moore Unidrill having just landed in New Zealand, Agrilife’s Ed Tarry has opted to go standard in the specifications to gauge the market first. The one area they have opted to change specs is the hydraulic fan drive over PTO drive, which would require the tractor to be operated at 1000 PTO rpm. The hydraulic drive doesn’t require the same rpm, which saves fuel running costs. The only electronics, as standard, is the fan rpm sensor to ensure it operates within its limits (up to 4500rpm).

Lighter seeds require less airflow/fan speed and heavier seeds a slightly higher fan speed. With only a 2.9-metre sowing width and good height from the distributor head, the chance of seed blockages is low. In terms of other specification, you can add pretty much whatever you like – bin sensors, hydraulic metering with radar, in-cab monitors.

The rear cast iron Guttler roller can be swapped for a rubber unit, and hydraulic marker arms and bin extensions can also be added. Bars on front of the drill allow the addition of an extra 700kg ballast, adding 30kg per coulter should you require extra penetration from the discs in hard/dry soil conditions.

Maintenance/parts/construction

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With few moving parts, maintenance and upkeep is straightforward. Maintaining the basics, such as daily greasing of the four nipples on the Guttler roller, will further extend the life of your Moore Unidrill.

Thirty-two notched (410mm diameter/5mm thick) high-quality boron coulter discs mounted on long-life bearings and on a single arm helps prevent dirt and trash building up and getting into bearings and causing premature wear. Discs are staggered over two rows, with each pair of discs mounted 180mm apart.

Linkage mounted with a rubber duratorque system allows for flex and consistent sowing depth in a variety of contours. Tungsten carbide tip coulters provide longer life on this high-wearing component. Mounted on a powder-coated 100mm x 100mm x 10mm box section frame, the overall weight is 2300kg, excluding seed.

Verdict

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After testing the machine first-hand in less than ideal conditions, I’m confident that the Moore Unidrill’s features and build quality should suit large farms and contractors. It’s versatile enough to cope with the challenges presented by the New Zealand landscape and Agrilife’s decision to import this new range of machinery should prove beneficial to both the company and the users.

Pluses

  • 90mm, 32 rows across 2.9m sowing width, the closest spacing I am aware of in a direct drill
  • Fewer moving parts decreasing R&M and overall cost of ownership for the life of the machine
  • Well-thought-out design with discs staggered and sufficient space between front and rear discs minimises the chance for trash/soil build up
  • Basic mechanical seed metering and calibration on test machine with options to add monitors and seed sensors, etc. should they be required
  • Hydraulic driven air seeder for accurate seeding on hills and the ability to sow all the seed in the hopper
  • Compact three-point linkage mounted offering great manoeuvrability

Minuses

  • In short pasture, disc cuts are so tidy it can be a little hard to see where you have been, which is also a good thing

Moore Unidrill specifications

  • Sowing width: 2.9m
  • Transport width: 3m
  • No of rows and spacing: 32 rows at 90mm (Contractor Spec)
  • Seed hopper: 700L Keverneland Accord
  • Seeding system: Air, hydraulic drive (NZ spec)
  • Seed metering: Mechanical, ground driven
  • Mounting: 3-point Linkage, CAT3
  • Packer/depth roller: 45/50cm cast Iron Guttler Roller

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