Maschio Gaspardo has launched a new version of its high-speed Chrono precision drill.

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The Chrono 500 is a mounted machine which has a key feature that sets it apart from anything else. It can be set up to run with variable row spacings and is equipped with either 8 or 12 planting units, making it suitable for sowing a range of crops with 45cm, 50cm, 70cm or 75cm row spacings. This versatility makes it possible for the operator to switch from drilling sugar beet in the morning to maize in the afternoon, the conversion taking less than two hours.

Whether customers opt for the fixed row variant or the variable spacing option, the 500-series shares all the common features with the other high-speed precision planters in the Chrono range.

When it was launched in 2020, the Gaspardo Chrono brought a new level of sophistication to precision drilling. With a completely new seed delivery system, air bag suspension for each unit and electronically-controlled metering for both seed and fertiliser, the Chrono range offered fast-paced precision drilling with unrivalled seed placement and depth control.

While conventional precision drills might run at 7-8kph, the Chrono has the potential to at least double these work-rates, at the same time improving the accuracy of seed spacing and depth placement.

All down to design

This level of precision is all down to the design of the metering unit. Using a combination of traditional vacuum singulation and then pressure delivery down the coulter tube, the moment the seed leaves the metering disc it is kept under control. The Chrono doesn’t just leave it to gravity to ensure seed ends up in the ground, a venturi puts it under positive pressure, controlling its speed and therefore ensuring it ends up in the soil without bounce.

Aside from conventional vacuum singulation, the other factor that makes for ultra-accurate seed spacing is the angle of each metering unit. Set on an incline of 15deg, seed drops off the disc and straight down the coulter tube without touching the sides. This means it is not slowed up at any point with the result that seed spacing is consistently uniform.

The goal for the Gaspardo design team in the development of the Chrono was to achieve industry-leading work-rates while maintaining accuracy. One of the biggest challenges with this is ensuring consistent seeding depth so the engineers turned to time-proven technology from the commercial vehicle world. Rather than employing traditional springs or hydraulic rams to generate downforce on each coulter unit, they integrated air-bag suspension into the Chrono’s parallelogram linkages, giving an impressive 300kg per unit coulter pressure.

As well as providing protection against shock-loading from stones and obstacles, the system maintains constant down-pressure, avoiding the units bouncing at speed. With the ability to adjust coulter pressure to cater for differing conditions, this ensures uniform seeding depth at high workrates.

The Chrono is fully ISOBUS-compatible enabling all its functions and adjustments to be handled either through an existing tractor terminal or an additional ISOBUS controller. In combination with the electronically-driven seeding units and microgranular applicator, the GPS-compatible drill controller also provides automatic row shut-off/section control and the potential for variable rate seeding and fertiliser applications.

Maintenance kept to a minimum

Despite being a highly sophisticated machine employing the latest technology, there has been a deliberate focus on keeping maintenance to a minimum while extending the working life of the various components. Brushless long-life electric motors fully sealed from dust ingress are used for the seed and microgranular metering units. In addition, there are individual filters for the air-intakes on each seeding unit as well as a larger one for the main lobe compressor to ensure zero contamination of the workings.

“The Chrono was specifically developed for fast-paced precision drilling with unrivalled seed placement no matter what shape, size or seed type,” explains Dominic Burt, Maschio UK field sales manager.

“Adding a version to the range that can swap between 50cm and 75cm row spacings in under two hours puts the Chrono further ahead of the competition and provides the customer with a much more versatile machine capable of drilling multiple crop types.”

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