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’s New Zealand Dealers gathered recently in Addington, Christchurch, for comprehensive training in Advanced Technology Solutions (ATS) including System 110 Guidance, System 150 and System 350 Auto steering and AGCO’s telemetry system, Agcommand.
AGCO’s extensive dealer network gives farmers access to the resources and benefits of these new and emerging agricultural products. Dealer training empowers dealers with the knowledge and expertise needed to provide customers with high end precision farming solutions and the know how to suit progressive farmers. AGCO’s precision farming technologies enable farmers and contractors to optimise their operations, reduce input costs and achieve greater efficiency and profitability.
In New Zealand, the highly professional dealer group attending the training included dealer principals, sales staff and technical support staff. All were given the opportunity to evaluate the systems on display in real time with a mix of Valtra, Fendt and Massey Ferguson tractors equipped with AGCO’s technology products.
Taking an active role in enhancing dealers’ knowledge base, AGCO Australia’s ATS Product Manager, Jeremy Duniam, was pleased with the training that included classroom style learning as well as practical demonstrations of the products.
“The dealer training was extremely productive and was received very well by all participating. It is always rewarding to see dealer staff remain behind after the day sessions have finished to spend more time getting familiar with the systems. The dealer network in New Zealand is very professional in their approach. Their knowledge of ATS solutions will equip New Zealand farmers with innovative technology solutions, which is the future of farming.” Jeremy said.
This recent dealer training reflects AGCO’s commitment to and global emphasis on precision ag technology, recently launched as Fuse™ Technologies. To learn more about AGCO’s on and off board technologies and the Fuse technology strategy, visit http://www.agcocorp.com/products/precision_farming.aspx.
It’s fast approaching harvest time in and around the town of Horsham in Victoria’s west, which provided an idyllic backdrop for a recent photo shoot for Massey Ferguson.
The first star of the show was a new 320hp MF 8680 tractor pulling the new 40’ MF9800 Series single disc air drill. With the camera crew in place, shooting both video and still photography from various vantage points, a great selection of shots were taken showing the awesome power of the MF8680 pulling the new air-seeder through its paces on a fallowed paddock.
Also making an appearance on a beautiful sunny day in the heart of the Wimmera was the new MF9760 self-propelled swather which was fitted with a mower conditioner front and captured making light work of a healthy crop of oats & hay in a nearby paddock.
Shots taken from the day’s shoot will be used in future promotional campaigns. Have you been in the Wimmera lately?
AGCO introduces the new Sunflower 6631-35 and 6631-40 vertical tillage tools, which will be on display at the 2012 Farm Progress Show, Aug. 28–30 in Boone, Iowa. The new Sunflower 6631 Series Vertical Tillage Tools deliver seedbed consistency across entire machine. The latest addition to the 6600 Series, these new tools have the width to meet early spring tillage needs of large farms and are designed to create a consistent seedbed across the entire width of the machine. With the Sunflower-exclusive Split-Wing design featuring locking wing extensions, these tools offer strength and stability, but fold to a compact package for transport. The tough vertical tillage tools easily shred and mix tough crop residue to enhance warming of cold, wet soils so planting can begin earlier. Available in 35- and 40-foot working widths, they allow farmers to cover ground efficiently while creating a soil surface that reduces wind and water erosion, and a consistent seedbed that enhances uniform emergence and early crop growth. Farmers will find a number of unique features in the new Sunflower 6631 vertical tillage tools that not only allow the machines to size and mix residue very effectively, but that also ensure long life and consistent performance in the field, says Tom Draper, Sunflower seeding and tillage product marketing manager. They were intentionally designed with a low horsepower-per-foot requirement to help farmers cover more acres with less fuel. That increases return on investment in both time and dollars. In addition, each machine is backed by the Sunflower three-year limited warranty.
AGCO introduces five new Sunflower 5056 Series field cultivators for 2013 at the 2012 Farm Progress Show. Ranging from 45 to 63 feet wide, the new field cultivators join the industry-leading Sunflower 5000 Series field cultivator line. The 5056 models offer ground-hugging flexibility across the full width of the machines, and are among the largest in the industry to quickly and consistently handle seedbed preparation during the short spring planting window. The Sunflower 5000 Series field cultivators have long been the seedbed preparation tool of choice for many farmers,‖ says Tom Draper, Sunflower seeding and tillage product marketing manager. As with previous models, the Sunflower 5056 Series field cultivators have outstanding ground clearance and superb flotation plus the capacity to cover acres fast to get fields ready for the optimal spring planting window. They are built strong, in the Sunflower tradition, and have a truss-style main frame with rotational-torque-compensating wing frames so they will be strong enough to stand up to years of high-acre use in challenging field conditions, Draper explains.
AGCO introduces three new Sunflower 4700 Series in‐line rippers. The newest 4700 in-line rippers are built for farmers searching for a rugged machine that will dig deep and stand up to tough soil and residue conditions, while helping restore optimum yield potential to heavily compacted soils. The 4700 Series in-line rippers are intended for primary fall tillage and are available in three models and five widths. They are built on beefy Sunflower-tough frames, with heavy-duty shanks designed to slice through tough crop residue and deeply penetrate and shatter compacted soils. With three models in three styles and five widths, there is a Sunflower 4700 Series in-line ripper to match any farm size and all field conditions, says Tom Draper, Sunflower seeding and tillage product marketing manager. All are backed by the Sunflower three-year limited warranty. The SF4710 is a three-point-mounted rigid frame, available with five, seven or eight shanks and a maximum 20-foot working width. The SF4730-8 is an eight-row flat-fold frame with eight shanks and a 20-foot working width. The SF4730-12 is a 12-row pull-type with an over-center fold frame. With 12 shanks and a 30-foot working width, it is one of the largest in-line rippers in the industry.
We announced the expansion of our current Kansas City, MO, AGCO Parts facility to a full-service parts distribution center (PDC). The facility (specifically, located in Independence, MO) covers 900,000 square feet and now includes $100 million of parts inventory, an increase of nearly 40 percent. To mark the official opening, more than 100 dealer representatives and customers toured the facility April 10 and 11 during Grand Opening activities.
Our effort to expand this center and increase our inventory is expected to improve order responsiveness, which means that parts deliveries that can arrive as much as two to three days faster than before. Changes implemented will result in faster delivery of in-stock parts and earlier delivery of emergency and priority shipments for nearly 90 percent of the dealers served by the Kansas City PDC. This is the third of our AGCO Parts PDC’s to be upgraded to a full-service facility in the last two years. Collectively, the upgrades offer significant benefits for customers to reduce shipping times, since now one-half (four of eight) of AGCO Parts’ North American PDC locations are full-stocking. These are just a few examples of our intensive efforts to improve parts availability.
“As growers continue to increase the size of their operations, the need to minimize downtime becomes increasingly important,” says Joe DiPietro, director, Supply Chain, AGCO Parts.
“Transitioning our Kansas City parts distribution center to a full-service location further illustrates AGCO’s commitment to support our dealers and their customers. This will provide faster service to our dealers and enhance their efforts to keep customers’ equipment in the field and performing at optimum levels. ”
With its central location at the crossroads of major Interstate systems, the Kansas City facility serves dealers in the Midwest, northern Plains and eastern Mountain regions which are all important markets for AGCO Parts. Parts for all product lines from tractors and combines to tillage and application equipment are stocked there, with shipments to dealers made daily.
Additional changes implemented by AGCO Parts across North America during the past three years that also are designed to improve customer experience include:
• an updated and reorganized inventory management system;
• increased dealers’ parts inventories
• revisions to online parts books, making it easier and faster to order the correct parts;
• PM360, a pro-active preventative maintenance program, designed to enhance machine uptime, resale value and operating efficiencies, as well as provide peace of mind and optimum machine productivity;
• extended customer service hours during planting, spraying and harvest seasons.
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For more information about AGCO Parts, our products, services and in-season promotions visit www.AGCOParts.com.