High speed compact disc machines are also used to dry and black-up the soil to put it back into production
LANGHAM, Sask. — Vertical tillage became popular with prairie farmers because of wet soil conditions. However, growers eventually found they wanted slightly more tillage and blackening of the soil, especially in high-value crops.
As well, they wanted independent mounting of the blades for better rock protection, which is when manufacturers transitioned into the high-speed compact disc concept.
Todd Botterill, one of the original pioneers in bringing vertical tillage tools to Western Canada back in 2006, said these cultivators were smaller and faster.
Botterill, who was at the Ag in Motion show near Saskatoon this past summer to introduce farmers to the Landoll HSL 7833 (High Speed Landoll), said one side benefit of the vertical till trend was that it opened people’s thinking to new ideas in land preparation.
“Prairie farmers are starting to do what guys south of the border have been doing for a while,” he said.
“On their high value crops, they’re doing some extra cultivation, some extra seed bed preparation.”
Zero till and vertical till are still the norm for cereal crops, he added.
“In canola for example, if the ground gets one extra pass before seeding, you blacken it up to absorb more sunlight and warm up quicker. If you get an early frost, there’s enough reserve of heat in the soil to prevent major crop damage.”
He said farmers are using the machine to reclaim low, wet spots.
“They dry the soil and blacken it up so they can put that land back into production. If you’re running up to speed, you can really chew up that accumulation of tough residue.”
Most experts agree that high-speed compact disc technology maxes out at about 40 feet. Farmers with 8,000 acres to cover are accustomed to wide machines, 80-feet or bigger. They tend to smirk at smaller machines, but Botterill said the smirk disappears once farmers give this machine a try.
“We only have 40 feet in the soil, but you’re doing the work of a cultivator and a harrow packer bar in a single pass, and you’re travelling at seven m.p.h. to 12 m.p.h. Seven is the absolute minimum speed. So it’s doing enough work to make that 600 h.p. tractor snort,” he said.
“Another consideration is how much of the farm do you need to work? In eastern Manitoba, guys are working corner to corner because they have to. But as you move west into Saskatchewan and Alberta, guys are more selective and they’re only working the areas that need it — sloughs and headlands and problem spots.
“When our dealer here (in Langham, Sask.) made his recent order, he brought in just one 35-foot machine and no larger units. The rest are all 20-foot and 25-foot, so guys can use their smaller tractors and just work their problem spots.”
Landoll engineers’ two main priorities when they set out to design the HSL series were low-maintenance and simple depth adjustments, Botterill said.
There are two hand cranks: the front crank adjusts the depth of the front discs by raising or lowering the tires and the rear crank handles the packers. That simplifies depth control and makes frame levelling easier, without tools.
“You’ll notice there’s not a lot of linkage points or pins within the frame. Those are always high wear points and costly to fix. The engineers did away with them,” he said.
“We have a floating hitch system. A lot of machines have a rigid hitch, so when you’re working in rolling ground and the tractor goes down, it pulls the machine forward and pulls the front discs into the ground and pulls the frame one way. When it comes up, it swings the other way. A floating hitch keeps it level.
The machine is intended to replace a tandem disc unit. The 24-inch blades turn slower, go deeper and last longer, said Botterill.
“We’ve been testing them for five years and we have yet to replace a bearing. The bearings are sealed for life and they carry a three-year warranty, as does the whole machine.”
Three different packers are available. First is a simple Chevron design. There’s a conventional spring reel for mud. The machine on display had rubber rollers at the back, equipped with mud scrapers. The Ag in Motion display machine was a 25-foot unit that carried a list price of US$115,000.