Happy New Year!  Whether you’re easing your way back into your regular routines, hitting the ground running, or even making the leap into new farming techniques, we want to help you kick off the new year with some thoughts on the latest tractor tools available for your farm. From tillage to tech, there is an abundance of new gear available to make your work in the fields go at least a little bit smoother.

In this post, we’ll focus on some recently launched tillage equipment and accessories. Short Vertical Tillage, No-Till, Strip-Till, or traditional tillage… No matter what kind you prefer, there are some handy new or redesigned machines out there to help you prep your seedbed proficiently. We’ve selected a few examples to highlight below.

Primary Tillage

The new Max-Chisel from Great Plains, an “aggressive primary tillage” tool, uses two opposing rows of exclusive concave turbo-wave blades with a patented “samurai edge”. These special blades are aggressive in their ability to dig up root balls while mixing and integrating residue in the top four or five inches of soil. This action “pins” the residue to the ground, which accelerates the decaying process. 24” blades with 15” spacing mounted to individual C-shanks allow plenty of clearance for trash. The equipment also features maintenance-free bearings and interlocking seals “to keep grease in and dirt out.” Max-Chisel is available in two rigid models and two folding versions, and with heavy-duty shanks with 2,450 pounds of horizontal trip force to keep them from pulling out of hard ground like a more traditional chisel – although medium-duty shanks are also available.

While more aggressive than a traditional chisel, Max-Chisel provides a level surface, allowing a single-pass with a secondary tillage tool to finish the field before the planter. The level surface is created because the machine pulls dirt back into the shank voids to level the soil  while maintaining the tillage profile.

Also from Great Plains, the Ultra-Chisel is an “ultra-durable tillage” tool offered in widths from 21’ to 45’ with 900 pounds trip force. This tool is intended for consistent and complete tillage around 6” to 8” in depth. This often eliminates the necessity for a follow-up pass prior to prepping the seedbed. The Ultra-Chisel features a rocking bolster system on the centre rockshaft. This results in even depth control in uneven or hilly fields. Great Plains claims “unmatched depth uniformity when compared to other large tillage tools in today’s chisel marketplace.” This chisel is suitable for deep tillage and weed control in large 12″ or 16″ sweeps.

Note that the Ultra-Chisel can also be equipped with 7” wing points to create a vertically-tilled soil environment. These wing points are “specially designed to create total fracture across the entire profile rather than just rip slots in the soil.”

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Image credit: BrianBrownImages / Getty Images 469526445

Secondary Tillage

John Deere has launched two new tillage machines for 2017, referring to them as the “next level of seed seedbed preparation”. These secondary tillage implements have been redesigned “from below the ground up” to work faster to help boost productivity. They’re designed to work in tough soil conditions and high levels of crop residue at speeds up to 10 mph.

The John Deere 2230 Field Cultivator series is offered in a number of different configurations: the cultivator comes with three-section or five-section configurations in 15 different widths from 25.5 feet to 69.5 feet. John Deere claims it can cover up to 217 more acres in a 10-hour day than older models.

The 2230 Level-lift and Floating Hitch Field Cultivators have a redesigned lattice-style frame with stubble resistant radial tires and no daily maintenance points. The 2230 Floating Hitch Field Cultivator can be used for level or hilly terrain because it can follow the ground contour and stay level.  Both the Level-lift and Floating variants come with a leveling system with six rear harrow options to give growers their desired level of field finish.  The cultivator includes tillage technology (TruSet, which is exclusive to John Deere) that gives the operator precise control of depth and down pressure from inside the tractor cab. This technology also offers variable depth, and it documents your tillage passes allowing you to review your field data later.

The 2230 Field Cultivators use true six-inch split-the-middle-shank spacing with 200 pounds of trip force in order to provide:

  • Maximum residue flow
  • Consistent soil mixing
  • Even distribution of residue
  • A smooth, level finish both on and below the surface, allowing seeds to take root and flourish

The second new John Deere tillage tool, the fully redesigned 2330 Mulch Finisher, is built to:

  • Mulch residue to an optimal size
  • Distribute large amounts of residue effectively
  • Produce a smooth seedbed

A new frame design allows for wider working widths, and John Deere offers several rear harrow options. The 2330 Mulch Finisher is available in nine sizes with widths from 21.75 feet to 56.25 feet. It has true nine-inch split-the-middle shank spacing, integrated TruSet tillage technology and other features similar to the 2230 Field Cultivator mentioned above, including the ability to make precise adjustment from the tractor cab.

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Image credit: oticki / Getty Images 464453636

Vertical Tillage

According to Great Plains, “true vertical tillage has become the standard for yield-boosting seedbed preparation”. Its Turbo-Max, for “maximum vertical tillage,” has two coulter gangs with 7.5″ spacing between each blade. The rear gangs are offset from the front gangs, and this splits the blade spacing to 3¾”. Great Plains states that this improves the sizing of residue, allowing for one tillage pass. The operator can hydraulically adjust the gang angles  from 0° to 6° while on the move to better match field conditions.

The Turbo-Max is available in seven models with working widths from 12′ to 40′, and offers features for both spring and fall vertical tillage.  Great Plains recommends running the machines with gangs at an angle to bury more residue in the fall – this helps to keep the residue from blowing away and also promotes accelerated decay. In the spring, they suggest keeping the gangs straight. This makes for a level seedbed that is vertically tilled and ready for planting.

No-Till

On the flip side, Great Plains Ag also offers a series of No-Till Seeders available in 7-, 9-, and 11-foot widths. The seeder comes standard with main and small seeds boxes, and there is also an optional factory-installed native grass (or “fluffy”) seed box available. The main and small seeds boxes are calibrated by opening the seed cups with a seed-rate regulator.

The seeder is ground-driven by spikes incorporated into a rear packer-roller. Lockout pins on each drive sprocket allow the operator to disengage any of the seed boxes, or a single pin on the main sprocket can be used to lock out all the boxes.  The operator can control the aggressiveness of the No-Till Seeder by manually angling the front spiked rollers. Seed is dropped, spread, and gently pressed into the soil with a rear cast packer, all while being protected from wind by a metal shield.

Strip-Till

Dawn Equipment has announced that they are rounding out their product line with a complete strip-till toolbar equipped with Dawn’s “Pluribus” strip-till units and a fertilizer application system. An “an all-encompassing toolbar” rather than an attachment, it is intended to make it easy for a planter to run right on top of the seedbed the strip-till toolbar creates.

Developed to work at a high speed with low power, Dawn says the toolbar increases uniformity of emergence, and is designed to perform well in both spring and fall.

Others:

A number of other manufacturers such as Horsch, Sunflower and 360 Yield Center have also launched new tillage machines and accessories in the last year or so, providing growers with many options to tailor their tillage equipment to the needs of their farm.

 

All of these new or redesigned tillage tools should see increased adoption in 2017 as “precision agriculture” and modern techniques such as strip-till and vertical tillage continue to gain popularity.

 

Feature image credit:  DuxX / Getty Images 491151340