Reviews

Hatzenbichler 6m tine harrow/air seeder

We have been lucky enough to experience a kind winter with relatively little damage to pastures. However, there’s always room for improvement. This month Jaiden Drought tests the ideal machine for pasture rejuvenation.

This month’s test combination, the Hatzenbichler six-metre mounted tine harrow and air seeder, will complement the fleet of any large farmer, grazier or contractor and it’s perfect for following the cows and seeding pugged areas, as well as planting crops and generally giving the soil a bit of a tickle up.

This is exactly the reason why John Elms bought the Hatzenbichler six-metre mounted tine harrow/air seeder combo. John and his wife run a 150-acre dry-stock farm in south Taranaki where they graze dairy cows over the winter and sell standing grass and hay during the summer. They also dabble in the odd bit of contracting. He saw an opening for this large machine as it allows him to cover a big area in a small period of time with both low power requirements and low capital outlay when compared to its direct drill competitors for this size of machine.

Now, as the title suggests, the Hatzenbichler tine harrow and air seeder are two different machines that can be ordered together or separately. Perhaps you’ve got a backyard creation that could benefit from the addition of an air seeder. If so, the Hatzenbichler is a good option and I’m sure the team at Origin Agroup won’t hold it against you if you can’t pronounce it correctly.

Now before we get on with the test, and to avoid any confusion for the hawk-eyed photo viewers among you, I haven’t had a hair transplant nor have I had a dye job. You will be pleased to know John was the starter for the photos and has a much fuller head of hair than I. Turns out just like having a face for radio, I might also have the hair-do for standing behind the camera. As they say, ‘if you don’t have the locks, you’re not on the box’. Right, on to the test.

Harrows

With working widths from 1.5 metres to 27 metres you will no doubt be able to find the right harrows for your business, but the beauty of these harrows is not the width but the number of tines. Our six-metre test model had 192 tines, which were only 2.5cm apart, meaning both excellent ground-hugging and scattering as they vibrate along the ground.

Not only are there a large number of tines, but you also have a few different adjustment options depending on the ground you are working in. The six-metre version has four 1.5m sections across the width, each with 10 different aggression settings and adjustment of the depth wheels at the front. The sections are mounted onto the main frame via chains which allow them to work independently from each other — great for uneven or very rocky terrain as it will move around without sending stress through the frame causing fatigue.

The seeder

The test machine was fitted with the AIR 16 model seeder from Hatzenbichler, which, unlike some machines, has true 16 outlets, not eight with splitters. As these machines are designed to be mounted to a large range of implements, they come with 50m of hose which allows the outlets to be placed optimally on any machine. The outlet itself is shaped in a semi-circle, so once the seed hits the plate it spreads to create greater coverage. For a machine of this width you could actually get away with the 8m/25m hose version and just opt for the large 400L hopper as these spreader plates and the scattering effect of the tines will also give great results.

Hopper

The Air 16 models come standard with a 400-litre hopper, although a 600-litre version is available on request. In my opinion, this size really is the downfall of the machine and seems comparatively small when compared with the large working width of the machine. The other small issue I had with the hopper was the narrow lid for filling. The hopper itself isn’t particularly wide, so a full-width lid would make this job much easier and requires very little modification. On a positive note, the steps and grating for loading allow for enough area to place a couple of bags up from ground height and is definitely non-slip.

Metering

The seeding is done via a sensor drive wheel at the rear of the machine and sowing rates from 800g/ha up to 80kg/ha can be achieved. The area recording is done via a pulse, which is measured from the wheel with every rotation. This pulse is then transmitted to the in-cab computer controller. This system works very well and is incredibly accurate. One small downside I found when testing this machine mounted to the roller was at the headland — when you want to stop seeding but not lift the roller, you’re required to push OK on the computer. Because these are linkage mounted, this isn’t a problem and John had no complaints about this at all. I still think a small switch separate from the computer would be better, allowing you to keep your eye on the machine behind you while you simply flick the switch to stop the seed, turn the headland, and switch it back on. Origin Agroup has since confirmed a small switch is now an option.

Calibration

The auto-calibration, agitator and seed-level sensor in addition to storing 40 different seed types in the computer are by far the best features of the whole machine. This gives you the ability to turn up to the job, put the seed in the machine, select your pre-stored setting and away you go. As John said, he actually doesn’t calibrate it very often because he has never had more than 40 different seed mixes go through the machine. For every new blend he stores it and writes it down, so if it comes up again he just selects it on the terminal, no problem.

Calibrating the machine isn’t actually very hard. You simply select which roller you need for the seed (either large or small) and set the number of rotations you want it to spit out on the computer (twenty-five rotations equals roughly 3.5kg for grass). Simply weigh the seed then put the weight into the monitor and it works out the calibration. For smaller seeds using the dimple roller, the number of rotations needs to be around 80-100 due to the lower seeding rate for kale or turnips, for example.

Verdict

This six-metre, versatile harrow/air seeder combination can be used for pasture renovation, light cultivation, soil aeration and for sowing a large range of crops. The beauty of the machine is the low power requirement of just 40hp for its six-metre working width. Best of all, the entire machine only weighs 660kg including the air seeder — chuck it on the back of the ride-on, pull a wheelie while you’re at it and if nothing else, it will be good advertising for your contracting business — depending on how well the wheel stand goes.

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Photography: Jaiden Drought

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