Claydon will use LAMMA 2018 to launch its new TerraBlade Inter-Row Hoe, which met with an enthusiastic response from farmers at CEREALS 2017, where a pre-production model was exhibited.
A low cost, mechanical method of effectively controlling weeds in all types of band-sown crops, the Claydon TerraBlade provides an additional weapon in the agricultural industry’s weed control armoury at a time when the efficacy of some herbicides is decreasing, the cost of control is increasing, and the pace at which manufacturers are developing new chemistry has slowed dramatically, reducing the range of options available.
Thoroughly evaluated on Claydon farms over the last two years, the TerraBlade has proved very effective in a range of crops, including wheat, barley, oats and beans.
Band sowing at 300mm leaves a 14cm -15cm-wide unseeded strip between the rows which can be mechanically hoed. The TerraBlade eliminates weeds from that area easily, reliably, safely, cost-effectively and without the use of chemicals. This clears up any weeds that were missed by the ag-chems, or in crops where these products cannot be used, greatly reducing the return of weed seeds and the overall weed burden.
By keeping the unseeded bands clear of weeds during the early stages of crop growth, competition for nutrients, light, air and water is reduced and the young plants grow away strong and healthy. The TerraBlade therefore has the potential to improve crop yields, drastically lower the potential for carry-over of weed seeds and reduce the risk of more resistant types developing.
On farms that drill early, crops may be sufficiently well developed in the autumn to start using the TerraBlade then, and in the spring the operation can continue whenever soil conditions allow, up to the stage where the crop might be compromised by further passes.
The TerraBlade will give years of reliable service, has very low operating costs and offers great flexibility. It can be used on any tractor with a Cat II linkage, at speeds of approximately 6 km/h and up to 30mm deep.
Four TerraBlade models are available. The M3, M4, M4.8 and M6 have working widths of 3m, 4m, 4.8m and 6m to match those of Claydon Hybrid drills and are equipped with 10, 14, 16 or 20 tines. These are mounted on a robust parallel twin-bar frame to provide maximum rigidity and ensure accurate operation, even in hard, dry soils. Providing typical hourly outputs of 1.5 ha, 2.0ha, 2.4ha and 3ha, the four TerraBlade models have minimum power requirements from 30hp to 60hp, weight from 450kg to 550kg and fold to a maximum width of 2.71m for transport.
All TerraBlade models are reversible, enabling them to be used on either the front or rear three-point linkage. Claydon recommend mounting the TerraBlade on the front linkage where the unit is to be steered manually, and on the rear linkage where RTK-based guidance is used.
Representing a further significant advantage in favour of the Claydon Opti-Till System, a progressive, more ecological and financially sustainable method of establishing combinable crops than traditional plough and min-till-based techniques, the Claydon TerraBlade is well timed, says Suffolk farmer and agricultural engineer Jeff Claydon, who designed it.
“Herbicides have proved efficient and cost-effective at controlling weeds in combinable crops for many years,” Jeff states. “However, since 2009 the agricultural industry has lost over 200 ag-chem products, including key herbicides, and there is a question mark over the future of others, while some are becoming much more expensive, but less reliable and less effective.
“Blackgrass provides a good example, being a by-product of modern farming systems, regardless of which establishment method is used. It has become increasingly resistant to current herbicides and some growers are already spending £40/ha on a product that is sometimes only 50 per cent effective, or even less where they have resistant weeds.
“Being at the forefront of developments in crop establishment, Claydon wanted to take the lead in improving standards of weed control and further reduce growers’ costs by developing an innovative approach. Trials of the Claydon TerraBlade on our own farms, in conjunction with the use of herbicides, have been very effective and proved that the unit will pay for itself quickly through reductions in grass weeds and improved crop yields.
“In a trial conducted by Agrii UK, in an area where grassweeds had become problematic after years of conventional crop establishment, a combination of Claydon stubble management and herbicide programmes achieved a very high level of control.
In the area which received no treatment, Agrii researchers counted over 900 blackgrass seed heads per square metre. In the surrounding area, where a combination of ag-chem treatments, Claydon Straw Harrow and Claydon TerraBlade passes were used, the number of blackgrass seed heads was just 13/m2, representing a 98.5% reduction.”