Oliver Wood is precision technology manager at Hutchinsons
Oliver Wood is precision technology manager at Hutchinsons.

Converting a standard land-metered drill into a variable-rate drill has never been easier or more affordable following the Omnia E-Seed conversion kit.

Developed by crop production specialist Hutchinsons, Omnia E-Seed is the first stand-alone variable-rate drill conversion kit that fits to any standard drill and does exactly what it says on the box.

“We know that growers are increasingly looking to variable-rate drilling to lift crop performance, as well improving the efficiency of their seed and nutrition inputs,” Hutchinsons precision technology manager, Oliver Wood, said. “However ,the cost of investing in a new variable-rate drill, which can cost circa £40,000 upwards, has been a barrier to many growers moving over to a variable approach.

“If there’s a perfectly good drill in the shed, but it just doesn’t offer a variable rate option, it can be difficult to justify the cost of replacing a good machine.

“But with Omnia E-Seed, we’re now able to offer an affordable way of moving over to variable rate drilling without investing large amounts of money. We’ve calculated that it’s possible to recoup the cost of Omnia E-Seed in just 48ha, subject to a 0.6t/ha improvement using a variable-rate approach.”

Mr Wood acknowledged that during the past two very wet and challenging autumns, conditions have hampered drilling, particularly if using one of the newer, larger variable-rate drills.

Omnia E-Seed can convert  any drill to a variable-rate machine
Omnia E-Seed can convert any drill to a variable-rate machine.

“However, there may be an older, smaller and lighter drill on the farm that could be used, but it doesn’t have variable-rate capacity,” he added. “This no longer needs to be an issue as the Omnia E-Seed box can be easily fitted to the land metered wheel of the old drill, and drilling can continue.

“The kit comprises a motor that bolts on and replaces the land wheel, the sensors fit virtually into the same holes of the original drill. All control is via an iPad that talks to the box, so once variable-rate plans are uploaded onto the iPad, they can be seamlessly sent wirelessly to the box.”

The Omnia E-Seed can be used by everyone, irrespective of being an Omnia Precision user or not.

“In a similar way that Omnia Connect is available to use if you’re not already an Omnia customer, it’s not necessary to generate variable-rate plans in Omnia to use Omnia E-Seed, any variable-rate plans can be uploaded and used by the system,” Mr Wood said.

The Omnia E-Seed kit has been tested and validated at the Hutchinsons Helix farms and is available now.