Review: Lemken Solitair DT/600

The Lemken Solitair DT continues the brand's tradition of build quality and clever design, offering one pass drilling with one, two, or three bins

Lemken’s new kid on the block, the Solitair DT

So, when setting out to look at Lemken’s latest addition to its range, I wasn’t surprised to find that the Lemken design team has stepped up yet again, taking the proven Heliodor disc and combining it with the Solitair double disc planting system, along with a few other components, to produce the Solitair DT.

Offering one pass drilling with one, two, or three bins, the machine we tested for this review is a pretty tricked-up six-metre version of the Solitair DT (also available in a four-metre variant). This is just the second machine of its kind in the country, with the first seen at National Fieldays earlier this year.

Test time

The Lemken Solitair DT we demo’d is based in the South Island at EuroAgri and has been kitted up with all the gear to really show what this machine can do. It has all the features you could want, as well as those you didn’t know you needed until you have them and realise you can’t do without them.

Euroagri_ Lemken Solitair DT_Oct 23-037.jpg

At the front of the machine is a leading tyre packer roller (ideal for crumbling, levelling, and reconsolidation of a seed bed) or spring-loaded levelling tines. These work well on ploughed ground or for knocking any lumps back into the hollows to give a more even surface for the discs to work — a good option when planting back into winter crop ground. Hydraulically controlled, these can also be easily adjusted on-the-go to maximise effectiveness.

Alternatively, you can spec with nothing on the front and the Lemken Heliodor short-disc harrow would be your first soil-engaging, cultivation unit of the drill. The Heliodor discs are 465mm in diameter and 5mm thick. These are attached to the frame with steel leaf springs, not the rubber buffers used on a lot of other cultivation gear. Alternatively, you can fit a corrugated wavey disc, as the Heliodor discs are spaced at 125mm. Like the seeding units, they can work like a triple disc drill.

Seed distributors at 1.5m allow easy section shut off, with four drive motors

The option to spec hydraulic adjustment is a handy feature experienced on this demo machine. If you have a split hopper, on the six-metre drill this would be 5100 litres (seed-only hopper would be 4400 litres) and the double fert discs would be the next component, sitting in front of the transport/packer wheels. The fert discs plant between every two sets of seeding discs. The beauty of the Solitair DT is that it offers multiple options for how to sow. You can plant with one hopper direct through the OptiDisc double disc coulters, or you could add fert or another seed from the front/fert box down the same seed groove in what Lemken calls a single shot. Alternatively (with the second bin), you could fertilise between every second row with the fert double discs. These are designed to sow a slightly deeper depth, making fert available, without potentially burning seed. Lemken calls this the double shot method.

Another use of this is for sowing different seeds. If not applying fert, you could put larger seeds through the front bin and these would be planted slightly deeper, and smaller seeds through the second bin, achieving optimal planting depth for the establishment of both.
To adjust the depth of the fertiliser discs, spacers are used on the hydraulic ram. This also allows you to retract them from the working position when not in use, saving additional wear.

Hydraulic adjustable, levelling front paddles

The double disc fert coulters offer up to 150kg of coulter pressure. Following the fert coulters is the tyre packer roller. Using large 90cm tractor-type tyres staggered across the full machine width makes this easy to pull and better self-cleaning for a uniform reconsolidation across the full sowing width, even under challenging (damp) conditions.

From here, you have two options: an additional harrow or the 420mm trapezoidal packer roller. This works pretty much like a Cambridge roller just in front of your planting discs, smoothing and packing to give excellent ground contact for seed.

OptiDisc double disc planter

Having been successfully used on other Solitair Lemken planters, the OptiDisc double disc planter has been meticulously designed for perfect seed placement. It also offers the flexibility for farmers to decide whether to use conventional or conservation tillage.

Plenty of power and traction with the tracked Fendt on planting duties

The parallelogram design of each coulter is maintenance-free, not requiring greasing multiple points per coulter each day. The depth/press wheels offer the greatest planting accuracy possible, even with higher speed operation and challenging soils. Again, ticking all the boxes, this demo machine had the higher spec hydraulic down pressure (up to 70kg of coulter pressure) over the standard mechanical spring system (up to 45kg of coulter pressure). Two-row spacing options are available: 16.7cm or 12.5cm, which is pretty much the industry standard/expectation on modern drills these days.

The final element (another extra) was the levelling harrow tines, which cover two seed rows. Individually adjusted without tools, this allows you to add more or less pressure or lift out of work completely.

Seeding system

As an air seeder, you need a fan to deliver seeds to the planting coulters. This hydraulically driven unit has a super low 30 litres per minute requirement. With the low hydraulic flow required, low tractor rpm and speed fluctuations have little influence on blower speed and, ultimately, on seed/fert accuracy.

Plenty of power and traction with the tracked Fendt on planting duties

Bin options are single or double, and you can also choose whether you want a canvas top or steel lid pressurised hoppers. For me, one of the standout features was the easy access to empty the hoppers on the right-hand side of the tank — a job you would normally dread on many drills. Although the loading height of the bins looks high (and it is), it’s very close to other European-manufactured drills. Ideally, you will want to load with a loader or telehandler, and you can fold down just the left hand for access to make this process easier.

With the flat walkway and fold-out platform, loading old school wouldn’t be the end of the world, unless you’re filling the hopper with 40kg bags of oats. Calibration is straightforward: simply type into the monitor what you want to plant and at what rate, and it will tell you which dosing rollers would be best used. All the spare rollers are different colours and are kept in a box on the drawbar. You will probably get by with about three different variations, for example, small seed (red), grass (green), and large seed (blue).

Spring or optional hydraulic coultor down force

This job is tool-free, meaning downtime between jobs is kept to a minimum. The dosage system is corrosion resistant, making it 100% suitable for fertiliser.

The six-metre sowing width has four individual drive motors, with four distributors each serving 1.5 metres. These are mounted close to the seeding units for greater accuracy. Tramlining is another feature available on this drill. As well as seed sensors, two options
are available: individual, which isn’t cheap, or a mushroom system that works in each distributor, which I thought was a good option.

Accuracy with depth at sowing time is crucial for optimising crop establishment/growth

In the cab, the large CCI 1200 terminal is fantastic. It’s easy to navigate, set up, and use, as well as enabling you to constantly monitor what’s going on. The large colour touchscreen is extremely intuitive, using easy-to-understand icons.

If you want to avoid cab clutter, alternatively you can choose to run through your tractor monitor with ISOBUS. One of the best features is being able to use the Lemken app on your phone when calibrating, saving jumping in and out of the cab during the calibration process.


Rear covering tines cover 2 rows for a smooth finish in cultivated ground

Having a particular interest in drilling equipment, I’ve been aware that the Solitair DT was in the pipeline for a while, before seeing the North Island prototype at Mystery Creek, so I was keen to see if it would live up to expectations when put to work. It definitely did.

The Solitair DT is a great addition to the range of Lemken gear and well worth considering if you’re in the market for an efficient and reliable machine capable of planting some serious hectares. With both the six-metre and four-metre versions available, there’s flexibility there too depending on what size your operation is.

Single or dual seed and fert bins are available

Key features

  • Easy to operate in-cab monitor/ISOBUS
  • Phone app for calibration
  • Easy access to empty hoppers
  • Multiple planting options single/double shot
  • Different options to suit needs/requirements
  • Well-proven Heliodor disc and Solitair double disc seeding systems

Lemken Solitair DT/600 Specifications

Working width 6m 
Tractor power (range) 132–221kW
Hopper capacity 4400–5100L
Row spacing  125/167mm
Seed coulters 48/36
Transport width 3m
Transport height 3.57m
Mounting Tow eye/K80 ball/
Cat3/4 linkage
Road speed  40km/hr (max)
Drill controller Lemken CCI1200
monitor/iQ drill-ISOBUS
Weight 8915kg 

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Photography: Jo McCloy

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