One tool fits all

We’re seeing more new tillage tools come 
to market as farmers gradually move away from zero till

A decade ago, we were still seeing the introduction of new and innovative zero till implements. However, the innovation trend today is in tillage equipment.

Zero till is certainly not dead, but a general increase in wet field conditions has pushed farmers into remedial action to dry saturated soil. Also, the layer of organic matter on the surface of long-term zero till fields has impeded seeding accuracy, again prompting some form of tillage.

These and other factors have combined to force investment in new tillage implements that producers aren’t necessarily happy about. Ironically, this is happening just a few years after most farms had the scrap iron dealer haul away the last of their old cultivation equipment.

The positive side to this scenario is that the latest generation of tillage equipment is engineered to perform very precise operations on your field. These are not your granddad’s cultivators.

Not so positive is the fact that precise soil manipulation requires specific implements. According to a news release from Schulte Industries, a grower may have a designated machine for one or all of the following tasks: spring seedbed preparation, fall fieldwork, vertical tillage, conservation tillage, primary tillage and residue management.

Some of those specialty tillage machines might sit in the yard three or four years between the years when they’re needed. It’s a situation begging for a multi-purpose tillage implement, says Rob Muench of Schulte.

Recognizing the financial burden imposed by owning so much new iron, Schulte developed the 30-foot VTX-300 and 42-foot VTX-420 all-in-one variable tillage implements. The multi-adjustable VTX can handle everything from light to extreme tillage using the aggressive 24-inch Soil Razor concave wavy discs, or vertical till and seedbed preparation with the 22-inch, straight 13-wave discs.

Four factors contribute to the VTX versatility:

  • The disc angle is hydraulically adjustable between zero and 22 degrees on the go from the cab.
  • The operator can switch between concave discs and straight discs in about one hour.
  • Down force of 1,150 pounds per foot ensures the VTX can handle virtually any residue or soil condition.
  • Disc spacing is adjustable.

“You can run zero to six degrees with the 22-inch straight wave discs, and then more aggressively from six to 22 degrees with the 24-inch concave wavy discs,” said Muench.

“To change disc spacing, you can also move the gangs horizontally. That’s a manual adjustment. It takes about an hour. You just get in there and loosen them up and slide them over. The way we do it here is lift the unit up and work off the back of a half ton.

“That’s the sort of thing you’d probably do when you’re changing your discs anyway. When you set them up so there’s overlap, now you’re getting that nice smooth field finish for seeding. You’re not getting the ridges.”

The 30-foot unit weighs 37,800 lb. The centre frame section and wings are 10 feet. Working width is 31 feet, two inches. Transport width is15 feet, four inches. Both the VTX-300 and VTX-420 will be available in early July. The Schulte order form lists the VTX-300 suggested price of $199,053.

The price breaks down as follows:

  • VTX-300 base unit $161,322
  • steel basket $ 13,735
  • 24-inch Soil Razor $ 7,183
  • tine harrows $ 3,095
  • shipping kit $ 2,754
  • assembly $ 2,500
  • steel surcharge $ 8,464.01
  • TOTAL $199,053.01

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