Low disturbance toolbar expands tillage options

Managing a 1,600 ha mostly arable farm with varying soil types and a heavy foxtail load requires a flexible approach to crop establishment.

That’s why Joe White, farm manager of Cannon Heath Farm, Kingsclere, Hampshire, likes to keep a range of growing and sowing kits available.

No-till seeders have been used on the farm for the past 15 years, but throughout that time they’ve been accompanied by a host of other soil-engaging machines and a trusty min-seeder. -till Vaderstad Rapid.

See also: Bespoke Liquid Fertilizer Kits Improve Performance of No-Till Crops

“I’m aware that we have too much hardware, but it all plays into it and I don’t think we can do a good job relying on one system,” says White.

“Sometimes the soil conditions in certain parts of the farm just aren’t suitable for direct seeding, so we have to till or lift the soil to get good crop establishment.

“However, all work on the farm is minimum tillage and most of the land has not been tilled for 30 years.”

Agriweld Assist Low Disturbance Toolbar

A key part of the farm system is a 6m Agriweld Assist low disturbance toolbar, which can be used as a stand-alone soil lifting tool or combined with other equipment.

It mounts to the tractor’s rear hitch and has a series of lifting legs, each with a front disc that cuts into the ground to reduce ground movement and prevent trash collection.

Cannon Heath Farm Agriweld Help

  • Lenght 6m
  • Number of legs Eight or 12
  • Stitch width 75mm
  • Disc diameter 460mm
  • Maximum working depth 300mm
  • Leg protection Shear tabs
  • Price paid £26,000

At the rear, it has an optional three-point hitch for transporting mounted implements, or a drawbar for towing trailed machines.

In the latter configuration, it has a neat half-fold feature that raises the fenders so they don’t hit the implement during headland turns.

Thanks to the adjustable spacing, the Assist toolbar can be used with 12 legs at 500 mm for the preparation of cereal soil, or eight legs set at 750 mm for maize working fields.

This capability was a big factor in choosing the Agriweld Toolbar over other brands.

He was particularly impressed with the system for moving the position of the legs, as they simply hook onto one set of brackets and can be moved onto the next.

“It’s a very neat design and it doesn’t take us long to change them.”

The purpose of the toolbar is to lift the ground at reasonable speeds without boiling the ground around the leg.

Fender size plays a big part in this, and after testing different sizes, Mr. White and his team settled on a Sumo tip with 75mm fenders.

© Joe White

Grain establishment

The farm uses the Assist toolbar in different ways when preparing the land for grain crops.

For post-harvest stubble cultivation it is often coupled with a Vaderstad Carrier, with the tiller lifting the soil to a depth of around 150mm and the Carrier working up some potting soil to encourage weed seed germination.

Cover crops are also established using this combination, with the addition of a seeder unit and a series of spreader plates on the cultivator.

Often the farm’s John Deere 750A 6m Disc Seeder will seed spring crops directly into this cover after desiccation, meaning no further cultivation is needed.

Another common use for the Assist is in fall seedbed preparation, where it is paired with a heavy Michael Moore press that has languished on the farm for years.

This helps lower the small ridge of ground created by the leg, giving a flat surface for the 750A or Vaderstad Rapid to work on.

Previously this was done by a set of 6m Cambridge rollers, but these were not heavy enough to effectively seal out moisture in the top 50mm.

Sometimes the toolbar is used with the Vaderstad drill hooked directly to the back, making it a true one-pass operation. In this situation, a straw rake can be used to create a token beforehand.

However, it is more common for them to do the cultivation work first, not use the rake, and later drill at a 30 degree angle.

The John Deere 750A is not used directly on the toolbar because some of the discs track directly behind a foot and give uneven drilling depth.

It is possible to adjust the pressure of individual coulters to help counter this, but Mr. White and his team struggled to achieve this with such variable conditions across the width of the drill.

Agriweld Assist Legs

© Joe White

corn establishment

The farm uses the Assist toolbar in different ways when preparing the land for grain crops.

For post-harvest stubble cultivation it is often coupled with a Vaderstad Carrier, with the tiller lifting the soil to a depth of around 150mm and the Carrier working up some potting soil to encourage weed seed germination.

Cover crops are also established using this combination, with the addition of a seeder unit and a series of spreader plates on the cultivator.

Often the farm’s John Deere 750A 6m Disc Seeder will seed spring crops directly into this cover after desiccation, meaning no further cultivation is needed.

Another common use for the Assist is in fall seedbed preparation, where it is paired with a heavy Michael Moore press that has languished on the farm for years.

This helps lower the small ridge of ground created by the leg, giving a flat surface for the 750A or Vaderstad Rapid to work on.

Previously this was done by a set of 6m Cambridge rollers, but these were not heavy enough to effectively seal out moisture in the top 50mm.

Sometimes the toolbar is used with the Vaderstad drill hooked directly to the back, making it a true one-pass operation.

In this situation, a straw rake can be used to create a token beforehand. However, it is more common for them to do the cultivation work first, not use the rake, and later drill at a 30 degree angle.

The John Deere 750A is not used directly on the toolbar because some of the discs track directly behind a foot and give uneven drilling depth.

It is possible to adjust the pressure of individual coulters to help counter this, but Mr. White and his team struggled to achieve this with such variable conditions across the width of the drill.

working legs

© Joe White

Tractor power

Due to the toolbar’s low disturbance legs and the fact that it is worked no more than 200mm, it can be pulled by the farm’s 215hp John Deere 6215R.

Pairing it with a press or drill usually requires some extra firepower, so the tasks are left to a 290hp 7290R.

This has plenty of grunt in most situations, but working speed is usually limited to less than 6 mph to avoid moving too much dirt.

Sometimes the farm’s 9RX is also put into use, usually in steeper terrain and when the ground is particularly hard.

However, the main role of this tractor is to pull a 6.7m Gregoire Besson Discordon, which is only deployed when the ground has tightened up and needs a little more disturbance than the Assist can. to offer.

“I don’t like using the Discordon because we burn so much fuel to pull it, but sometimes it’s just what the ground needs and we’d miss it if we sold it,” says Mr White.

Amendments

The Assist toolbar worked well from the start, but some changes have been made and more are in the works.

First of all, the combination of flint and green sand soils on the farm is particularly resistant to metal wear and a set of bar tips can be ready for the trash after 40-70 ha, depending the works.

For this reason, hard coated welding has been applied to the sides of the legs and tops of the fenders to give them extra life.

Hardfacing welding

© Joe White

Also, when the tiller is used as a strip-till cultivator to prepare corn soil, it can throw the soil too far from the leg, even at slower speeds.

To counter this, Agriweld is working on a pair of removable floating discs which can be bolted to either side of the leg to hold the ground in a tight band.

“Ideally I would have a dedicated strip till machine, but I wanted row width flexibility and I think we can get the right results by modifying what we already have,” says White.

Other possible modifications are the addition of a seeder unit to establish companion crops in the inter-row and the possibility of fitting nozzles between the legs to create a band sprayer.

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