Updated: Sep 8
The different agronomic functions of plowing can hardly be fulfilled by a single tool. In this article we will discuss the different uses and functions of tractor cultivators as well as their different types.
Plowing fulfill different purposes, which will only be achieved by an appropriate choice of equipment. First of all, the incorporation of crop residues requires the tool to generate a mixture as homogeneous as possible within the first centimetres of the soil.
A shallow tillage is required to create a false seed bed or to prepare a seed bed, this is accomplished by using a tool capable of creating a fine soil and eventually ensure a good soil-seed contact, and maintain suitable soil moisture.
To destroy the regrowth the approach will be different, in this case the device operates in greater depth to avoid subculturing and favor drying.
The destruction of perennial plants is more selective and requires the use of a pronged tool to bring out the root system. Plowing also acts on pests (slugs and rodents) by disturbing their habitat.
Finally, the soil is restructured using a pronged tool up to 15 cm deep, so as to crack the packed soil.
The categorization of tiller tools is not limited to tined tools and/or discs. They should be differentiated according to the shape, sizing, number and arrangement of their shares. To these two large groups are added the spades and rolling harrows.
Independent Disc Stubble Cultivators
Characterized by their V or X frames, stubble cultivators differ mainly by the shape and size of their discs. Originally designed for shallow tillage, they now adopt larger diameter discs (greater than 600 mm) for deeper work and a better capacity for mixing residues.
The work of a stubble disc cultivator is very dependent on its rolling hallows, both in terms of recompression and depth control. Small disc machines (460 mm) are ideal for creating false seed bed. Less effective for the latter, the models with larger discs (550 mm) give access to the incorporation of straws, as well as to the destruction of regrowth, with an efficiency dependent on the diameter and the angle of the discs.
More commonly known as the cover-crop, Disc Harrows are fitted with disc gangs that allow the angle of attack to be changed. Disco Harrow supply tends to focus on X frame models with 660 mm discs, spaced 230 mm apart.
The position of the axle can influence the ability of the tool to work with or without a roller. The disc sprayer can hardly do very shallow and regular work. Some specially designed devices such as the Great Plains Turbo Max, are capable of working at very shallow depths. The disc sprayer, due to its penetration capacity, offers a certain ability to mix residues and destroy regrowth, depending on the angle of attack preset.
Two Row Cultivator
Star of the 90s with the emblematic Lemken Smaragd, the cultivator with two rows of tines and leveling discs owes its success to its simplicity, its need for moderate traction and its ability to work in greater or lesser depths.
The fairly large spacing between tines requires wide wing shares for consistent work across the width, especially for the destruction of weeds. Capable of performing deep-plowing, while ensuring good leveling, it is however not very suitable for false seed bed and the distribution of straw on the surface.
Three /Four Row Cultivators
Cultivators with three or four rows of tines have taken over two-row tools by increasing the number of tines, reducing wear and improving the regularity of work across the width, especially with a lot of residue. The tines optimize the soil-straw mixture. Like the two-row models, these tools allow farmers to work over a wide depth range. Their larger overhang and their greater power requirement give an advantage to semi-mounted models for large widths. Some devices can work without a roller under certain conditions.
The vibrashank cultivator is a heavy tiller with large vibrating teeth. Depending on the model, from 5 to 8 teeth per meter, this device offers sufficient clearance and spacing between rows of teeth (about 60 cm) to be able to pass plant debris.
It is capable of making a false seed bed, correctly distribute the straw and even destroy the regrowths, provided that it intervenes early enough with crow's feet. This Vibrashank Cultivator can also be used for the preparation of spring sowing.
With its spring tines, the harrow is effective only at high speed. The action on the residues will only be satisfactory in dry conditions and with very ripe straw. By only scratching the ground, the harrow requires several passes to achieve a false quality seed bed.
This device is also appreciated by practitioners of simplified sowing for its action on pests. To limit the number of passages and facilitate interventions with large volumes of residue, some harrows can receive discs or cutter rollers, upstream of the teeth.
With its freely rotating spades that tear off and project the earth on the surface, this tool is very effective in false sowing. On the other hand, the spades assure an irregular work in depth, limiting for the destruction of regrowths.
This tool can be sensitive to creeping weeds, which tend to wrap around spade trains. To remedy this, some associate disc trains with spade trains.