Sunflower Tillage Experts Offer Preseason Advice for Proper Tillage
No matter what your tillage goal is — residue management, seedbed preparation or preparing for the next crop in a rotation — a properly adjusted and properly used tillage implement will result in fewer trips to the field, better management of the quality and performance of the next crop, and hopefully lower potential erosion.
Tillage experts from Sunflower®, the industry’s full-line provider of tillage and seeding implements, offer some advice for preparing and setting disc harrows before going to the field this fall. These tips apply regardless of the brand of disc harrow you’re working with.
“The goal should be to achieve a consistent, level soil finish across the entire width of the machine, leaving no ridges or furrows,” says Larry Kuster, senior product specialist with Sunflower, a brand of AGCO. “How a machine is set and how it is used really impact reaching this goal, and also determine how effective the machine will be at cutting crop residue, sizing it consistently, and then mixing it into soil to encourage breakdown over the winter.” Kuster offers these tips plus easy-to-follow photos and detailed instructions from Sunflower demonstrating how to set a tillage machine.
Properly pair the tractor and tillage tool. Size does matter, so don’t overpower the tool. A general rule is 8 to 10 HP per foot to pull a tandem disc harrow at 5 to 6 mph. While the design of some tillage tools allows faster ground speeds, going too fast is an easy way to create ridges and furrows. It also can cause tillage tools to bounce, producing an inconsistent tillage depth.
Adjusting the tongue to match drawbar height is important to keep the tillage tool level and moving smoothly through the field, optimizing fuel use and minimizing wear on parts such as the drawbar, level lift assembly and other components that can receive unneeded down pressure if the tool is operated either nose down or tail down. A straight line of draft to the tool is the goal.
Purge air from the hydraulic lines to ensure the wings stay level with the machine’s center section. With the implement’s hydraulics connected to the tractor, simply raise and lower the implement several times to allow the system to cycle fully. Because air is more easily compressed than oil, air in the hydraulic lines can allow the wings to sag.
“If the cylinder sags one-third inch, for example, that could allow the wing to drop approximately 1 inch,” explains Kuster. “That is significant when the tillage depth you’re working toward is only 5 or 6 inches.”
Level the tool from side to side and from front to back to ensure it will work the soil at a consistent, even depth, without gouging or ridging. Keeping the tool level also helps optimize fuel efficiency, reduces wear on the implement, and allows the machine to handle crop residue with less bunching or plugging. Wings and center frames should operate at the same height from side to side. To check these, lower the tool to the ground, stopping the descent when the disc blades are close to the soil but not touching it. Use a tape to measure the distance from the bottom of the frame to the center of the pivot pin on the walking tandem or the top of the wheel spindle if a single or dual wheel is present. The measurements should be the same. Always check the center-section wheels left and right to ensure the integrity of the center lift assembly. Using this same method, set the wings at identical depths by measuring from the bottom of the frame to the top of the wheel spindle or pivot pin of the walking tandem (as shown). If the wheels on the wings are smaller than the main transport wheels, adjust your measurements accordingly.
“The great thing about this method is the operator can use it at the shop or in the field,” says Kuster. “You don’t need a level slab of cement.”
Adjust the fore/aft level so the front and rear blades are of equal distance from the ground. This is a preliminary adjustment. Once in the field, confirm the fore/aft level after traveling several hundred feet with the tool lowered in the working position. Check the soil at the center rear of the tool where the soil is returned by the rear gangs. A tool that is level front to rear will produce a complete and level fill of the valley cut by the front gangs. If soil forms a valley, the rear of the tool needs to be lowered. If a ridge is present, the rear of the tool is too deep, and the tool should be adjusted to lower the front of the machine.
Set the tillage depth to your field conditions and the job at hand. A general rule of thumb for tillage depth of an implement such as a disc harrow is 25 percent of the blade diameter. Thus, a disc harrow with 24-inch blades should be set to till no more than 6 inches deep. Implements such as Sunflower disc harrows have a single-point depth control with a convenient hand crank that adjusts the depth in one-half-inch increments each time the handle is rotated one turn.
“When setting machine depth, be sure the machine carries some weight on the wheels, because the wheels are the base of all the tool adjustments previously made,” explains Kuster. “When the tires don’t have some soil contact, control of the implement is lost.”
Follow these steps to achieve the maximum depth of a disc harrow: Operate the tool with the wheels fully retracted; yes, tires off the ground. Stop after working the soil for a few hundred feet and allowing the disc to achieve maximum depth. Lower the wheels until the tool’s frame begins to lift. At this point, release the valve stopping the ascent of the frame, and stop the tractor but leave the tool in the ground. Adjust the single-point depth-control crank until the striker plate contacts the hydraulic poppet valve. Raise the tool until the audible click of the poppet valve engages, which stops the oil flow. The implement’s maximum depth is now set, and control of the tool is retained.
Gauge wheels are especially important on flexible tillage tools to prevent front-wing corners from gouging. When set correctly, these wheels should move slightly side to side when kicked. A tape measure can be used to ensure the setting for both gauge wheels is consistent. The gauge wheel adjustment is the final step in the field adjustment process.
Operators’ manuals will have full details for specific settings on your machine. For more information about the full line of tillage tools from Sunflower, see your Sunflower equipment dealer or visit www.sunflowermfg.com.
AGCO officials cut the ribbon Aug. 16, 2013, celebrating completion of a two-year, $40 million revitalization project to equip the Hesston, Kan., manufacturing facility with the latest finishing and paint technologies.
“We fully understand how important a high-quality finish is to our customers and dealers, and the impact it has on machine life and resale,” says Bob Crain, senior vice president and general manager for AGCO North America. “That is the reason we invested in this new E-coat and powder paint facility. It is the most advanced and extensive coatings application center in the North American agricultural equipment industry today, and we’re excited to start using it!”
The electrocoat (E-coat) and powder paint processes at AGCO are equivalent to those of the automotive industry and provide a thorough, consistent, durable finish on each part, enhancing the overall quality and longevity of the final piece of equipment.
The new 200,000-square-foot state-of-the-art dip and powder-coat paint facility consolidates AGCO Hesston Operations’ two paint stations into one streamlined, efficient building. Parts for all products manufactured in Hesston will be painted and finished there before being assembled into final products. Nearly 75 percent of parts will go through the 17-step E-coat process, which involves dipping parts in a series of solutions that remove all rust, scale and laser oxides, then applying a high-performance corrosion- and weather-resistant finish comparable to that used in the automotive industry. The E-coat primer is applied using a high-voltage and high-amperage charge for 180 seconds, ensuring thorough coverage. After curing in one of 10, 375-degree F ovens, parts receive a powder topcoat with one of five colors, then another final oven cure.
The remaining 25 percent of parts, including gearboxes and drives, components that cannot withstand heat, and parts that are best painted after they are assembled, will be painted using a liquid coating system.
Farm equipment has been built in Hesston, Kan., since 1947, and today, the Hesston manufacturing facility builds Hesston by Massey Ferguson hay harvesting equipment; Gleaner, Challenger and Massey Ferguson combines as well as White Planters; and its nine manufacturing lines produce as many as 45 pieces of farm equipment per day, depending on the season. Today, with more than 1,400 employees, AGCO is the largest employer in Harvey County and much of the surrounding area.
It was literally standing-room only as nearly 1,800 Gleaner dealers, customers and enthusiasts filled Wichita’s Hartman Arena as the Gleaner S8 Super Series combines were introduced Aug. 15, 2013.
The full line of Tier 4 Final, Class 6 through Class 8 platforms and the industry’s first Class 8 transverse rotary combine is built on the Optimum Harvesting Performance platform, and is the culmination of design refinements that further reduce the liabilities of weight, size, fuel consumption, wear and complexity while maximizing capacity, grain quality, reliability and durability. These attributes have been part of many of the brand’s design principles since it was introduced in 1923, and they heavily influence today’s Gleaner Super Series combines.
“Since the day we launched the Super Series, we’ve been developing the Gleaner combine platform so that all functional areas of the machine deliver optimum performance and efficiency,” says Kevin Bien, Gleaner brand marketing manager at AGCO. “We’ve created a light, nimble combine designed so that the horsepower is used to efficiently cut and thresh the crop, not to move a heavy machine or overly complex system through the field.”
Gleaner’s one-of-a kind combine platform gets its start on a unitized, welded mainframe with a low center of gravity and true centerline design. This provides the lightest, most balanced weight distribution combine in the world. In fact, the Gleaner S88 is as much as 12,300 pounds lighter than competitive Class 8 combines, allowing the Gleaner to get through muddy fields when others will require substantially more horsepower and tracks to get through similar conditions. The new Class 7 Gleaner S78 is as much as 8,200 pounds lighter than other Class 7 machines.
There are many exciting new features and even special purchase incentives available. You can learn more at www.GleanerCombines.com or see the S8 Super Series combine at the 2013 Farm Progress Show, Husker Harvest Days and the Big Iron Farm Show.
Last month, Aguimar DeSouza, Senior Global Marketing Specialist for the AGCO Technology Solutions (ATS) team, was quoted in Iowa Farmer Today discussing how precision ag usage increases as the user experience improves. Below are his thoughts on the topic.
“Since the first yield monitor systems were produced around 1996, two main challenges OEMs and precision ag companies faced on the adoption of their products were the interface between operators and the technology, and the understanding and management of the data collected.
Ag OEMs and independent precision ag companies discovered that the profiles of machine operators around the world were different and this difference created a natural barrier for operators to use the new technology. In South America and Eastern Europe the problem faced was the level of education of the operators; in North America the issue was the age of owners/operators.
By understanding these differences the ag OEMs and independent precision ag companies began to develop products that were much easier to use and more intuitive. Within the last few years new display interfaces have been introduced and products have become much easier to use. All these changes have increased the adoption of precision ag technologies around the world year after year.
Now ag OEMs and independent precision ag companies are working hard to make the data collection, analysis and management easier. The recent public announcements related to connected strategies such as AGCO’s Fuse™ Technologies and from other OEMs have indicated that the industry understands the value of data collection, analysis and management. The final goal is to provide a technology that will allow farmers around the world to connect their assets via a wireless network, receive and send data, make management decision, manage their fleets, etc., in more efficient ways.
I would say that the ag OEMs and independent precision ag companies understood the differences of their customers around the world and started to produce solutions that met their customers’ needs. Precision ag technologies will continue to guide the future of agriculture around the globe!”
Click here to learn more about AGCO’s Precision Farming offering.
Aguimar DeSouza is Senior Global Marketing Specialist for the AGCO ATS team based in Duluth, Ga. USA.
The 9th European Conference on Precision Agriculture held in Spain set the perfect stage for the EAME (Europe, Africa and Middle East) regional launch of AGCO’s new global precision farming initiative, Fuse™ Technologies.
The mid-July conference took place in Lleida, Catalonia under the auspices of the International Society of Precision Agriculture (ISPA) and the Universitat de Lleida (UdL).
Matt Rushing, AGCO Vice President of Product Management, Advanced Technology Solutions (ATS) and Electronics Functional Group presented the new global technology strategy at the conference: “Fuse™ Technologies will encompass all of AGCO’s core product brands, enable a deeper integration with our technology suppliers, and impact all stages of the farming life cycle from enterprise planning, planting, and seed growth to application, harvesting and grain storage.”
The Fuse strategy presentation was well received by the audience. ECPA participants appreciated the concept of an open approach – that data from one information system can be used on various systems. The AGCO team and conference participants had good discussions at the AGCO Fuse stand about the current product offerings and the strategy to bring the different technology solutions closer together.
During the field demonstration at ECPA the performance of AGCO’s technology offering was demonstrated on the Fendt 939 using the Varioterminal 10.4. The VarioGuide™ system showed the high accuracy that can be achieved when the VariotronicTI automatic function is used. In addition to accuracy, a high operator comfort is guaranteed.
Fuse Technologies encompasses current products like the one demonstrated at ECPA, and will include all future technology products and services. To learn more about our specific on and off board technologies and how Fuse supports farmers throughout the entire life cycle of farming, click here.
Dr. Bernhard Schmitz is the Commercial Manager of ATS Products for EAME based in Marktoberdorf, Germany.