As no-till farming practices evolve, some farmers are turning back to some form of tillage in order to deal with heavy residue volumes on fields. The need to deal with that problem has given rise to the new vertical tillage equipment offered by manufacturers that incorporate trash without creating “plough pan,” a deep layer of compaction typically created by conventional tillage tools. Vertical tillage implements can even help break up plough pan compaction, according to some marketing claims.
Lately, a growing variety of light, multi-purpose tillage implements has turned up at farm shows and competing for market share with the vertical tillage tools. Here’s a sampling of the new vertical and minimum tillage implements companies were introducing at Regina’s Western Canada Farm Progress Show this year.
Mandako introduced its Twister this year. While the company has positioned it as a vertical tillage implement, Llew Peters, Mandako’s Canadian sales manager, says it is capable of a variety of functions. “We’re looking at ours as being a multi-use tool, because we can angle our blades,” he sayss. The discs on the Twister can be angled up to nine degrees, right from the tractor cab. Higher disc angles make for a more aggressive tillage pass.
With pairs of discs mounted on a separate shank, the Twister’s design is different from a typical tandem disc. “It’s not a gang machine,” says Peters. “So there’s more flexibility for it to go over rocks without damage.”
The Twister can also be equipped to provide an even higher level of soil disturbance. “We could put a concave disc on it, which would move more dirt,” he says. At the back, buyers can opt for a rotary harrow or rolling basket attachment to provide a smooth field surface.
Currently, Twisters are available in widths from 12 to 36 feet, but larger models will likely be available in the future. “Down the line we hope to go to 50 feet or more,” says Peters. Purchase cost runs at just over $2,000 per working foot. Adding the rear rolling basket attachment adds about $250 to that.
Building on its partnership with Swedish manufacturer Vaderstad, Seed Hawk has begun importing two of the tillage implements Vaderstad has had success with in Europe: the multi-purpose “Carrier” and heavy tillage “TopDown” cultivator. Both use the European concept of combining multiple functions in a one-pass implement.
The heavy-duty TopDown is capable of working as deeply as 10 inches, and it incorporates four different systems. The two front rows use serrated 17-inch discs to cut up and blend residue. Next, cultivator shanks break up and loosen the soil. Behind them is a row of discs to level out ridges, followed by steel packing rings that leave a firm seedbed. The TopDown is available in widths up to 40 feet.
“The TopDown is more of a sod buster,” says Trent Meyer, Seed Hawk’s director of international sales. “It’s a deep tillage tool.” Because of that it takes a lot of muscle to pull, roughly 20 horsepower per foot. The 40-foot model will need 500 to 600 horsepower, Meyer says.
For farmers who’ve been unable to get onto a field for a couple of seasons due to excess moisture, Meyer notes the TopDown would be well suited for taming those overgrown areas.
The lighter Carrier is another of the multi-purpose tillage implements that are gaining in popularity on the Prairies. The company believes it is well suited for running over stubble to incorporate heavy residues. It is designed with three separate tillage “zones”. First, spring tines distribute straw. Behind them, discs provide a light tillage pass and steel packers leave a firm soil surface.
The Carrier likes speed. “Seven to eight miles per hour is ideal with these,” says Meyer. To show farmers what these two implements are capable of, Meyer says the company is hoping to arrange field demonstrations this summer near Seed Hawk’s Langbank, Sask., plant. Interested farmers should contact their local Seed Hawk dealer if they’d like to take part in one.
German manufacturer Lemken is working to establish a presence in Western Canada, and it used the WCFPS to show farmers its new Gigant minimum-tillage model.
“We don’t want to call ourselves vertical tillage,” says Waldemar Heidebrecht, sales agent for Lemken. “We want to be considered light or minimum tillage machinery.”
The Gigant uses two rows of angled blades to mix residue and soil, then a double row of basket rollers levels out the finished surface.
One of the unique features on the two-part Gigant is it’s ability to be split up and used as a three-point hitch mounted implement. The carrier frame disconnects from the working sections, which split into two equal-sized sections. Heidebrecht says that allows farmers to work small areas of a field that need special attention or help get get onto very wet fields to dry them out without pulling the implement’s full weight.