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Sowing success in Northland

 A trip to the National Fieldays in June will take one Northland farming couple much further afield later this year, thanks to Canterbury no-till specialists Duncan Ag.

Jock Finlayson (73) from Purua ordered a brand new Renovator AS16 at Mystery Creek and unexpectedly came home with a free trip to Rarotonga for himself and his wife Chris after winning Duncan Ag’s special Fieldays promotion.

That’s since translated into a travel voucher which the Finlaysons will use to fly to Perth in spring to see family and friends, including former agricultural exchange students who are now broadacre crop farming in Western Australia.

Meantime Jock says while it will be five weeks at least before the ground’s dry enough to start undersowing with the new Renovator, he’s confident it’s up to the challenge of Northland’s sometimes difficult and undulating terrain.

As well as sowing new pasture on their home farm west of Kamo, where they finish beef cattle and run dairy grazers, he and son Karl will use it to drill paddocks for other farmers in the district, something the long established farmer, trained mechanic and local rugby club stalwart has been doing for the past 40 odd years.

Originally it was just new pasture, but now he’s increasingly sowing forage crops like turnips too for dairy farmers in particular.

The new Renovator replaces a Connor Shea drill bought second hand some years ago, which Jock describes as a good machine but which was increasingly difficult (and expensive) to find parts for. Prior to that he used an Aitchison.

Key priorities in purchasing a new drill were to buy a well engineered, NZ made machine with good backup for parts and service.

“I looked at the same model Duncan drill last year at the Fieldays, and thought the concept was good. I knew the failings of the other machines, and I could see this was well made, and heavy enough to handle the work we do up here.”

Northland’s challenging terrain is also behind his preference for a relatively narrow drill; the Renovator AS16 is a 16 row air seeder with a 2.4 m working width which he says is much more suited to the type of hill country he works than wider drills.

It also has a better fit with typical Northland laneways and tracks. Likewise the electric driven air bin ensures good seed distribution on uneven ground.

Duncan Ag’s North Island area manager Grant Thompson says as an air bin option on the company’s legendary Eco Seeder, the AS 16 has a perfect fit with Jock’s requirements, and like all Duncan drills features robust construction with easy maintenance.