LANGHAM, Sask. — Mechanical mulching with a flailing implement is one way to deal with crop residue that hasn’t yet received much attention in Western Canada.
Waldemar Heidebrecht of Prairie AgriSales in Lowe Farm, Man., wants to change that.
He has begun importing the German-built Muthing flail mulcher, a 23-foot wide implement that uses dozens of three-pound flails to beat biomass into submission.
Centrifugal force of the spinning shaft causes the hinged flails to fly out into the working position.
“The flail shaft turns at 1,000 r.p.m., so the material gets plenty of action, but the flails do not penetrate the soil. At their lowest setting, they simply skim the surface. You can adjust from one inch above the ground up to five inches above the ground,” Heidebrecht said.
“It’s good for corn growers with the B.t. stalks. It does a perfect job on the stalks. It opens the corn stalks and busts them up so it takes away the chance of getting the corn beetle. The stalk decomposes right away. It’s not laying there for many years. Of course, it doesn’t touch the root ball.
“The higher settings for mulching are pretty welcomed by the organic farmers. The normal farmers want a shorter residue. They want to chop it down to pieces one inch long.”
The mulcher uses a three-point hitch and 1000 r.p.m. power take-off to run the flail motor. Power requirements are 250 to 350 horsepower.
Heidebrecht said it’s easy to go from field mode to transit mode because the mulcher is designed for Europe.
“Ground speed is from two m.p.h. to nine m.p.h.,” he said.
“The slower you go, the longer the material stays in the machine. If you go slow, you can mulch really heavy high residue. The machine actually makes a vacuum to bring the material up into the flails.”