Young designer tackles the big boys in the airseeder market

August 18, 2015

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Young designer David Grayling is going head to head with the large manufacturers in the air seeder market with his innovative machines.

Young design engineer David Grayling is making waves in a highly competitive air seeder market dominated by imported products.

David, 31, and his wife Jen formed their own company, Graytill, in 2011, with the aim of filling a void for a compact air seeder with a narrow transport width.

The couple, from Wellington in central western NSW, put three months of solid design work, from initial concept to final design, into their GT 100 Series air seeder and commissioned Active Metals at Cowra to complete the fabrication work.

David spent a month assembling the air seeder before debuting it in the 2011 Henty Machine of the Year Award and at the Australian National Field Days, where it won an award of excellence.

The GT 100 Series has since proven popular with growers in southern NSW and Victoria.

But David conceded, the challenge is differentiating an Australian designed and built product in a competitive price-driven market.

“We tend to focus on quality and innovation, there is no way we could build a product at the price of an identical imported product,’’ he said.

“So, we focus on making our products better through simplicity – ease of use is a big thing for us, we put a lot of effort into the design.’’

David is never one to sit still and innovative designs and ideas constantly consume his thoughts.

His entry into the 2014 Henty Machine of the Year Award, an ATV tipping trailer, was conceived out of a problem encountered by Jen’s parents.

They could not find a suitable trailer to tow behind their quad bike on their New England farm.

Mounted on ATV tyres, the trailer is the same width as a quad bike and was designed to flat pack onto a pallet to reduce freight costs.

The ATV tipping trailer has the option of a stock crate, and has proven popular in the hobby, equestrian and general farm markets.

“Marketing is our biggest challenge and we have to use a variety of formats,’’ David said.

“We find the internet and newspapers are good but there is nothing like getting the product out there at field days so people can actually see and feel it.

“Most of our sales come either directly from field days. Previously we have done Henty and the Australian National Field Days – this year we will also do Agquip and the Mudgee Small Farm Field Days.

“You get the serious farmers at Henty looking for machinery, to learn about it and make some purchases.

“The Machine of the Year Award at Henty is the most prestigious and hardest to win, there is always quality machines there.’’

David originally grew up on a dairy farm at Hamilton in New Zealand’s North Island and completed a university engineering degree.

He was lured to Australia by AgrowPlow in 2006 as a design engineer, working on the seed drills, ploughs, and seed and super units produced at their Wellington factory.

David left in the company in 2011 to form Graytill with his wife Jen.

“I saw a hole in the market for air seeders – there wasn’t anyone making a compact air seeder capable of road travel without escorts and being towed with a reasonable sized tractor,’’ he said.

The airseeder comes standard with 25mm coil tynes and inverted “T’’ seeding points, giving it the flexibility of sowing both pastures and cereals.

The main feature is the narrow transport width of less than 3.5m, enabling the machine to easily fit through gateways, and be transported without the need for a pilot or escort vehicle.

A floating rear seeder bar and wings gives the air seeder good ground following capabilities.

“The press wheels behind are sprung in pairs but adjusted in a gang so there is only three ratchet rams to adjust press wheel pressure on the entire machine,’’ David said.

“Even though it’s on 15cm spacing, it’s still got exceptional trash clearance due to the tyne layout.’’

The hydraulic drive is coupled with a Farmscan Canlink 3500 to provide simple variable rate control and monitoring from one simple screen in the cab.

The pressurised 1500 litre bins have quick a change roller system allowing the bin to be cleaned out and changed from small to large seeds in under five minutes.

A unique metering design allows a large range of products and rates to be sown, from small seeds as low as 1kg/ha through to large seeds at rates of over 300kg/ha.

Wellington farmer and contractor Stewart Edwards, “Catombal Park’’, has used the GT 100 Series to sow lucerne, French white millet, forage sorghum, wheat, barley and canola.

He described the machine as “tough’’ with good seed placement.

Mr Edwards discovered the Graytill three years ago after finding a combine unreliable to sow small seeds.

He said the 6m wide machine had increased sowing efficiency by 50 per cent.

“I rate this machine highly as it’s done everything I’ve asked it to do – direct drilling of new or previously farmed ground, and sowing grazing crops,’’ Mr Edwards said.

“The 15cm row spacing is ideal for grazing crops – the quick ground cover eliminates more weed competition.’’

Mr Edwards said the GT 100 easily handled heavy trash loads.

“I find soil disturbance at 6-8km/hr appears to be the best with just enough soil throw from tyne to tyne without putting more dirt into the furrow,’’ he said.

“This speed still enables me to cover a good area for the day.’’

Mr Edwards said the narrow transport width was ideal for accessing properties when contract sowing.

“I have another air seeder almost 6.6m wide and it’s a nightmare getting into a lot of places,’’ he said.

“We can get through a 3.6m gate with the Graytill – it can be folded up from the cab.’’

Mr Edwards said calibration was simple and maintenance minimal.

“It is a very low maintenance machine, there would be a limit of eight to 10 grease nipples that would need greasing once a week. The tynes are sturdy,’’ he said.

“With the coulters on the front of the machine, they fold up and are out of the road when you don’t need them.

“When you do need them, you simply pull out two pins and fold them down.’’

Mr Edwards said the wide platform and full handrails on the bins gave ease of access.

David has added a range of custom made ute mounted spray units to his business, introducing them at Henty in 2013.

All sprayers feature a remote activated boomless jet capable of spraying between six and nine metres wide.

“We sold three in the first year at Henty straight off the site,’’ David said.

“The key feature is the auto rewind reel which is strong enough to pull the heaviest of operators up the steepest of slopes.’’

David and Jen are expanding the business this year to incorporate spray equipment accessories at retail and on-line levels.

On show at Henty they will have the GT 100 air seeder, tipping ATV trailer and a twin reel SmartSpray unit.

“We plan to stay at Wellington as it is close to the main transport hub of Dubbo, and it’s central to a variety of agricultural industries,’’ David said.

“We have a few other designs to offer farmers – the GT 200 is a niche model with full contour following and folds up under 3m and is available on 12.5cm spacings – plus some innovations in the sprayer market coming up.

“We can design anything, all we need is an idea of what the customer wants and we can take it there from concept to final development, prototyping and the physical machine.’’