Test: Vaderstad Rapid RDA 400S

Farm Trader discovers that the Vaderstad Rapid RDA 400S is rapid by name and rapid by nature

European gear is always well made and high tech but is often tarred with the ‘it works well in the loamy flat plains in Germany, but there is no way it will handle New Zealand conditions’.

The -rapid

Well thankfully, while scurrying around to kill some time when I should have been writing this article, I stumbled across a direct link between Swedish giant Vaderstad and Clough Agriculture in New Zealand.

As the pesky Australians try and steal our greatest achievements, we actually got a cultivator named after us (the NZ cultivator) by Vaderstad. Given it was in the mid-80s just as the company was expanding, our Kiwi ingenuity and diverse soil conditions played a part in the design of some of the most highly regarded drilling and cultivation gear in the world, still in the model line-up today. I re ckon that’s pretty cool.

Main benefits of the Vaderstad Rapid 400S

The -rapid -seeder

The Vaderstad Rapid 400S (seed only) 4m air seeder with additional Bio Drill carries out seedbed preparation, levelling, drilling, and packing in one pass. It also allows reliable seeding results at high working speed, hence the name.

The main reason the Vaderstad Rapid has been so popular with farmers and contractors in New Zealand is the fact it’s a multipurpose drill, allowing the option of cultivating or direct drilling with one machine.

The -rapid2

Levin contractor Gavin Teal and his son Daniel are familiar with the Vaderstad brand and recently added the Rapid 400s with Bio Drill to their fleet. Like much of the country, the ground where they mainly contract shows the effect of a wet winter, followed by a recent dry spell, meaning there is moisture below but the top is pretty crusty.

Gavin runs a large range of Vaderstad gear. He has a Carrier with Bio Drill as well as another 3M Rapid (box type), which is a 2011 model. The only work his original Rapid required was replacing a single bearing.


In terms of maintenance, he has just replaced the seeding discs after more than 3000 hectares. It’s this reliability and flexibility which the drill allows their business that made the decision to upgrade to the Vaderstad Rapid 4m a no-brainer.

The main benefit over the original box drill is in low seeding rate applications such as turnips. This machine still has the five inches or 125-millimetre row spacing, so has all the same great features of the box drill, except this one is run on air with electronic calibration and the impressive controller (which I will expand on later).


Two -point

The ability to use the Vaderstad Rapid in either worked or direct drilling ground is a real bonus. Given that Kiwi farmers and contractors are never sold on a one trick pony, the Vaderstad Rapid ticks a lot of boxes. It can prepare and drill ground in a variety of challenging conditions, as you get high coulter pressure and a decent amount of coulter travel.

The long length of the machine is the only real potential issue. However, the pivoting two-point linkage headstock does give manoeuvrability in and out of gateways, as well as over undulations in the paddock, particularly short sharp knobs, which can be tricky for any drill.

The two-point headstock allows you to lift the linkage arms up and over knobs as opposed to the front discs just bulldozing through. This is particularly helpful in sandy country as it keeps that precious topsoil intact.

Four-stage seeding

The way the Vaderstad Rapid can work in either cultivated or non-cultivated ground is due to the unique four-stage system. In one pass, this does the whole process (seedbed preparation, levelling, drilling, and packing) saving time, fuel, and moisture.

First stage: preparation

The front incorporation discs allow cultivated or lightly pugged areas to be just given a little tickle up and create that nice amount of tilth. The aggression can be altered from the cab depending on the conditions. This machine had what is called the system discs in the front: two rows of offset discs followed by narrow levelling paddles to gently smooth the surface before the next stage.

Second stage: seeding

The Vaderstad Rapid depth control system (which is adjustable from the cab) uses each packer wheel to control the drilling depth of two seed coulters with a unique mechanical linkage.

The coulters are rubber mounted, which allows more stable drilling at high speed while also allowing coulter pressure between 117kg and 255kg depending on the setting.

Seeding -towers

The main air seeder is run by a hydraulically driven fan with hydraulic metering, while the Bio Drill runs off the same air supply. However, this has electric metering with radar.
At the base of the seed hopper, seed enters the hydraulic metering system (with seed rates from 1.5kg/ha up to 500kg/ha). The hydraulic drive allows high seed rates also at high speed.

Hydraulic -metering

The high mounted fan is neatly incorporated and out of the way of dust and debris. This sucks the seed from the metering system to the distribution head, which is tucked into the hopper and out to the seeding boots.

The stairway and platform up to the seed hopper have wide non-slip steps and an area where you can throw bags up to from the ground. For the more industrial jobs, as this is a folding machine, the 2900-litre hopper is large enough to hang bags of seed over it with a normal front-end loader without the need for a telehandler.

Third stage: packing

The big advantage with the Vaderstad Rapid is the staggered tyre arrangement at the rear of the drill. This does two things. Firstly, it’s the transport wheels for the machine, which allows weight to be carried across all the tyres, reducing road wear. Secondly, as the roller is incorporated, there’s no need to tow an additional rear roller, making manoeuvrability much easier.

The reason it’s staggered is also twofold. Firstly, the wheel is attached to two seeding coulters. This is done with linkage, which allows consistent seating depth of those
two coulters. If contour changes across the width of the drill, the wheels attached to the two coulters can all move independently, allowing great contour, following with the added advantage of rolling across the width of the drill at the same time.

The second reason they are staggered is so you don’t have all the rollers in a row. In wet soil conditions, this eliminates waving across the paddock, or in super dry powdery conditions, a bow wave will not be carried in front of the roller, giving a much nicer seeding finish and again more consistent seed depth.

Fourth stage: finishing

The following harrow is adjustable and leaves a nice clean finish after the seeding from both hoppers. This allows the Bio Drill outlets to be mounted along the harrow for the likes of slug bait distribution.

Bio Drill

Rapid -4

The Bio Drill is the rear air seeder, which allows great flexibility. You can run fertiliser through the main hopper and seed through the Bio Drill, or run grass seed and slug bait or seed through the main hopper and clover separately through the Bio Drill. It’s like a second box, only smaller.

With a large, easy-to-fill hopper with its own steps and platform, the Bio Drill is integrated into the same control system. Calibration is simple and performed in a minute using the remote-control box fitted on the Bio Drill. The only issue with the Bio Drill is that it’s slightly hidden and does hang out a little bit. The tail swing may collect the odd gatepost.

E Control


Personally, I think this is one of the best features of this machine. The ability it gives you, plus the clear, colourful display make it super user-friendly. It’s not all for show either. It really does have some great features:


  • The iPad-based E-Control wirelessly connects to the machine enabling full access to its functions and data
  • The high-resolution iPad-display clearly displays data
  • E-Control is a fully portable i.e. when calibrating the machine. You can take the portable iPad out of the tractor and control the calibration from outside.
  • The iPad is wirelessly connected to the machine via a gateway (the little yellow dome on the machine). The gateway creates its own wireless network so there is no need for Internet access.
  • All machine data is stored in the gateway on the machine and not in the iPad, meaning the data is always secure. If the iPad stops functioning, you can get a new one and simply download the app. The iPad can also be used for multiple machines on the farm i.e. Rapid and Tempo. 



It’s hard not to be impressed by the Vaderstad Rapid. It’s obvious why this is the drill of choice by many contractors around the country – for its flexibility, reliability, and ability to seed accurately at high speed.

The E control takes the user-friendliness to the next level. It is colourful, intuitive, and easy to use. It allows you to take it outside the cab and if it dies or gets damaged, all the data is stored in the machine and not the iPad, so no data is lost.

High accuracy, high speed, high build quality, and user-friendliness make the Vaderstad Rapid something to put on your Christmas wish list.


  • Excellent build quality
  • E Link is user-friendly
  • The combination of the Bio Drill adds versatility
  • Has the ability to work in cultivated ground or direct drill
  • Unique offset packer and transport wheels all in one
  • Great for incorporating crop residue and drilling in one pass
  • Large hopper with accurate seed distribution of rates up to 500kg/ha
  • High speed, high accuracy drilling
  • Up to 255kg coulter of ground pressure


  • The machine is eight metres long and as the wheels are right at the rear of the machine, it can be a little tricky to navigate tight spots
  • The Bio Drill is completely unseen from in the cab and will have some tail swing that could collect the odd obstacle

Read more tests and reviews on Farm Trader.


Photography: Jaiden Drought

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