Allen Custom P-D 12000 drill review

By: Jaiden Drought

Allen Custom P-D 12000 drill review Allen Custom P-D 12000 drill review
Allen Custom P-D 12000 drill review Allen Custom P-D 12000 drill review
Allen Custom P-D 12000 drill review Allen Custom P-D 12000 drill review

The Allen Custom P-D 12000 Drill made a huge impact on a recent visit down south, and while it is the largest of its kind in the country, nothing has been spared when it comes to quality and performance.

The Allen Custom P-D 12000 Drill is an excellent example of a machine built to perform. Machinery owner Ross Hewson describes the drill as a seed bar with a hopper, which if you really think about it, is a pretty accurate description.

Putting the Custom P-D 12000 to the test

To be fair, it is quite a large ‘seed bar’. In fact, it is the largest in the country of its kind. Spanning 12 metres with 80 coulters at six-inch (150mm) row spacings, it is covering on average more than 10.5 hectare per hour since it has been in work.

The Hewson team crop 2000 hectares annually in a variety of crops ranging from onions, potatoes, wheat and barley; to high value carrot seed crops along with rye grass and clover seed as break crops to feed the 11,000-plus sheep they also fatten every year.

Obviously with so much going on, time is of the essence and the Hewson’s require quality durable machinery to get the job done effectively and efficiently. With a property of this size, large gear is equally important.

Among the collection of Case IH and Fendt tractors is a 530hp quad track, which is used for the bulk of the cultivation work.

Although the Allen 12-metre drill is a monster, it does have a 14-metre set of discs cultivating the ground in front of it, so there is still no bottleneck in front of the largest drill in the country.

The key reason behind going for such a large drill is that the majority of the 2000 hectare annual drilling is done in autumn, as this allows larger root development for crops when the summer dry hits.

Allen Drill2

Machine features

Although most will snob this drill as too big for most parts of New Zealand, there is no denying that it is ideally suited to this specific property, which allows a showcase of the ability of Allen Custom Drills.

This model, the P-D 12000 is also available in three- and 3.5-metre rigid, or four-, five-, six- and eight-metre folding to three-metres transport width also available to suit the masses.

Funnily enough, I remember saying that my impression of David Clark’s P-D 6000 which I tested, that as these drills are essentially custom-built, if you wanted a 12-metre drill I’m sure Craig would build it – and here I am seeing it in action!

The machine is purpose-built with easy seed loading in mind, but as compromise of this, loading space for the hopper is at the rear. This is both a positive and a negative. The positives include easy loading of 500- and 1000kg seed bags; being able to seed in the corners; and daily maintenance or adjustment of the coulters is all done in the open and from the top, so there’s no need to get in and under the drill – a common gripe of the European kit.

The only real negative is that without seed in the hopper, the drill has no weight on the drawbar, but only for a monment when starting the folding sequence. Once the wings are folded up, each side of the hopper weight is more balanced.

In the paddock, the drill is actually very agile for its size. This is due to the press wheels being in front of the coulters which lift at the rear. It also means when you lift at the headland, the whole drill stays on the ground instead of placing all the stress through the frame when lifting onto the transport wheels.

Metering and calibration

Like all other Allen Custom Drills, the P-D features the Accord metering and distribution system.

Additionally, the RDS Artemis electronic rate control is fitted which gives the machine the auto calibration feature as well as being able to vary the seed rate on the move. The calibration is as simple as placing a container under the meter, filling to the desired level with the prime button on each metering unit (one on each side), and weighing the contents – the computer will do the rest.

Michael Vanderweg, the drill’s main operator, found this particularly straightforward and easy to do, with considerable time savings over the previous drill.

The digital controller in the cab has a large easy-to-read screen with an easy uncomplicated menu and a keypad for typing all your info in.

Allen Drill4

Seed placement

This is a very simple and effective system. There are more fancy setups on the market than a double disc and a press wheel, but because the roller is in front of the discs, the contour following of the machine is taken care of. Because annual rainfall is so low in parts of Canterbury, leaving the seed in the furrows created by the press wheels rather than tyne harrowing or rolling can have advantages.

For this size machine it would simply require another pass, as a roller behind this would be impractical. Additionally, the furrow creates a natural channel for water to sink into beside the seed and also shelter from wind. Because large coulter travel is unnecessary, the PD-series coulters are mounted on RHS clamped with four rubber blocks.

The hydraulic depth adjustment is easy with blocks placed on the ram, but for individual coulter adjustment, a spring loaded pin is placed through a series of holes for the desired depth. Adjustment is a little time-consuming, but it may never (or only occasionally) need adjusting for variation in crop type.

The verdict

Craig Allen and his team should be very proud of this machine. Not only is it the biggest in the country, but these Kiwi-made products are regularly getting the nod over large European and American manufacturers. The ability to customise (as the name suggests) to suit the buyer is a definite advantage, as each region has its own slightly different requirements.

The P-D 12000 has the ability to drill in excess of 10ha/hr with a 240hp tractor using 2.7L/ha and with four tonne of seed in the hopper – enough for 40ha of nonstop drilling. I would suggest that this may not only be the biggest but may also be the most efficient drill in the country.


  • Rear coulter lift leaving the press wheels to carry the weight in the paddock.
  • Long frame allows for uncluttered loading and easy maintenance.
  • Simple unsophisticated design.
  • Auto calibration with variable seed rate on the move.
  • Large 5500L single hopper although options for additional, fert, bait etc.
  • Down pressure on wings with damper to allow contour following.
  • Coulter design is very simple and almost completely maintenance free.
  • Ability to customize the drill with a range of options to suit your operation.


  • Overall length of the machine with most of the weight at the rear, an empty bin can result in no weight on drawbar when folding up.

For the latest reviews, subscribe to Farm Trader magazine here.

Keep up to date in the industry by signing up to Farm Trader's free newsletter or liking us on Facebook