The machine manages crop residue, levels fields and conserves soil moisture, says designer
REGINA — European equipment manufacturers trying to capture business from broad-acre prairie farmers need to remember farmers here like to stretch out.
Laurent Letzter, commercial sales manager at Lemken Canada, said the company’s new 52-foot disc for high speeds, called the Heliodor, is built to answer the prairie demand for more acres per hour.
The Heliodor, which is intended for light surface disturbance, had previously been offered as a narrow implement, including three point hitch attachments. However, its new larger span now makes it a viable tillage option for bigger operators.
The vertical till machine is so new that the company is still working out how much horsepower is required to pull it.
“That’s actually the big question because you need a big tractor for this machine; 550 h.p. is something we’re guessing, depending on the conditions. I wouldn’t start below 500 h.p., and it can always take more,” Letzter said.
The machine was designed to till at six to 12 m.p.h., and Letzter said operators should consider speed as one of its settings.
“The faster you go, the finer you crumble it,” he said.
“The slower you go, you’re going to leave some clumps on the surface, and you’ll have some structure for it to not blow away.”
Some vertical tillage discs are designed to avoid vibrations caused by the machine’s movements, and their frames need to be strengthened to absorb the vibration.
Lemken has taken a different approach. The leaf springs that attach the frame to the discs are designed to generate vibration. Instead of being absorbed by the frame, the vibration is transferred down into the discs to help with the tillage.
The leaf springs also prevent damage to the machine when it hits stones.
“It’s been designed to avoid the stones by getting up and down,” he said.
“So you see, every disc is individually suspended on a leaf spring.”
Letzter said Lemken designed the Heliodor to be compact: the two rows of discs and packing row are located close together so that the machine follows the contours of the fields.
“An inch when you only work two is 50 percent difference in your depth, which you don’t want,” he said. “So when you’re looking for a compact disc, look for a very short machine because it’s the rollers that are doing your depth control.”
Lemken offers multiple styles of packing rollers for the Heliodor. Pins and holes on the roller assemblies help adjust the working depth.
The serrated concave discs on the Heliodor are five millimetres thick with a 465 mm diameter. They are set at 10.5 degrees to the ground and 16.5 degrees to direction of travel, with 125 mm disc spacing.
Long maintenance intervals for the Heliodor are possible because of the arrangement of double row axial angular ball bearings.
The bearings require no regular maintenance or lubrication bec-ause of the internal six-fold labyrinth rubber seal ring.
The Heliodor folds down to 12 feet wide and 13 feet, nine inches high for transport or storage.
“The big folding frame is the same folding frame that we had in the past for the Rubin, and this is now available in the bigger size of the Heliodor,” Letzter said.
Tillage continues to be a bad word for many producers, but even some hard-line no-till advocates are tired of bouncing over sprayer ruts and unplugging excess residue from their drills.
Besides managing crop residue and leveling fields, Letzter said producers can also use tillage to help conserve moisture in their fields because the crop’s root system continues to allow moisture to travel through it, up and out of the stubble, after harvest.
“You have a chimney directly connected to the root system that’s there to pump out the water,” Letzter said.
“A simple thing to check what I’m saying here is to take a piece of paper, put it on some straw that’s standing out there and see if the moisture comes out, and you will have a great surprise.”
Letzter said European farmers often till fields as they are being harvested because they want to break the plant’s root system and mix up residue as soon as possible.
An added benefit to fall tillage is that it creates a good environment for plants to germinate in the fall, which can help reduce weed seed counts in fields, he added.
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