Ploughing is one of the basic methods of soil cultivation. Tillage itself is one of the oldest working operations that farmers use for arable land cultivation. As the plough gradually improved in the course of time, farmers discovered how to turn soil, how to incorporate organic fertilizers into soil, as well as how to bury the weeds and pests from topsoil, and how to prepare soil for crop establishment.
A plough is used for tillage. It is a machine where various number of plough elements are mounted according to the farmer’s requirements and the towing vehicle power. A plough element consists of a blade that cuts the soil away from the bottom of the furrow, and a mouldboard. The mouldboard mixes soil with crop residue, crumbles and turns the topsoil over to the bottom of the furrow. Unwanted cereal seeds are moved to the bottom of the furrow thanks to the plough. The risk of secondary germination in newly established crops, even in the subsequent years, is high.
The plough has considerably evolved in the past few years, but its basic conception remains the same. The market offers an inexhaustible quantity of plough types that also allow for tillage outside the furrow, in a system called on-land.
Although tillage is quite popular among farmers, this working operation creates undesirable plough base or pan, especially when performed at inappropriate times and in the same field, repeatedly at the same working depth. The plough bass then forms an impermeable layer that hampers penetration of water, mineral substances and plant roots into deeper soil layers.
Another disadvantage of tillage is the considerable need for towing power, which increases with the number of plough elements and under adverse weather conditions. The higher consumption has a negative effect on labour economics, when performance decreases and the time needed for cultivating a field increases. Another disadvantage is the technical and time demands on subsequent soil preparation for creating a uniform seedbed.
Tillage no longer has a dominant role in farming technology. When we add the short time frame for soil cultivation prior to winter crop establishment, caused by changes in the autumn weather, many farming businesses simply no longer use tillage.
Many farms have stopped using tillage also due to anti-erosion measures that completely prohibit tillage on fields at risk of erosion or on slopes.
The method of minimum tillage cultivation comes from the USA and Australia. The system spread to Europe from there. Minimum tillage systems do not use ploughs, but various machines such as disc cultivators, deep cultivators, combined machines, or chisel ploughs.
The method developed mostly thanks to the effort to minimize costs and time needed to process soil for a specific crop. The climate change gradually led to the situation when it was no longer possible to prepare soil for seeding using standard plough technology. The main benefits of minimum tillage cultivation include lower fuel costs, savings in time and workforce, in combination with a reduced risk of erosion and increased capability of soil to maintain moisture.
Fast quality stubble breaking is one of the most important operations in soil cultivation. According to the proper agricultural procedures, it should be done as soon after harvest as possible. Stubble breaking ensures proper soil moisture management, quick weed emergence, thus preventing weeds from spreading in the field later on.BEDNAR Disc Cultivators
Properly done stubble breaking eliminates the occurrence of diseases, weeds and pests in the field, and also levels off the soil surface. SWIFTERDISC or ATLAS disc cultivators are used for this operation. However, it is also possible to use equipment with tines, such as the FENIX cultivator, or the universal VERSATILL VO_PROFI cultivator.
Unwanted cereal seeds can be quite easily controlled by mixing them into the top parts of the soil profile using, for example, a disc cultivator. When using tine cultivators, you need to make sure that the cereal seeds are not incorporated too deep, as they could emerge in the newly established crop.
Extra shallow soil cultivation means that the soil is processed in a depth of 1 – 1.6 inches on the soil surface after harvest. The STRIEGEL-PRO straw harrow is ideal for such operation. In a single pass, the straw harrow achieves even distribution and cutting of crop residue after harvest and, above all, a fast and an inexpensive start of the growth of unwanted cereal seeds that are incorporated at a very shallow level. The unwanted cereal seeds quickly germinate and can then be mechanically controlled, or eliminated chemically.STRIEGEL-PRO straw harrow
Chisel cultivators or heavy disc cultivators with a maximum working depth are most often used in basic soil cultivation in minimum tillage systems. Basic soil cultivation is usually done up to a depth of 10 inches, followed with crop seeding. As in any other soil cultivation method, it is important to pay attention to observing the set working depth, the quantity of crop residue on the soil surface, and even surface levelling.
The FENIX or VERSATILL VO_PROFI cultivators, designed as highly universal, including shallow soil cultivation, provide an excellent mixing effect, important for even mixing of processed soil with crop residue. Tine cultivators are mostly suitable for processing lighter and medium heavy soils where it is possible to work at an optimal depth level while keeping the set working speed so that a high mixing effect is achieved.VERSATILL VO_PROFI Cultivator
The design of the heavy ATLAS disc cultivators makes it possible to use the machines for soil cultivation at a depth of up to 8 inches. The robust frame in combination with its high clearance and a large disc diameter allows for a trouble-free soil cultivation and quality incorporation of the crop mass, even in fields with large crop residue, such as after harvesting grain maize, incorporation of organic fertilizers or catch crop.ATLAS AO_PROFI Disc Cultivator
Deep soil cultivation has its proven advantages, and it can completely replace standard tillage when carried out at the right time and in the right way. Deep cultivation enables root systems to develop, disrupts hardened layers in the plough base, and creates optimal soil environment for proper functional water and air conditions of soil. BEDNAR machines can carry out deep loosening up to a the maximum depth of 65 centimetres. It is recommended to add profile fertilisation in the same pass, to provide soil with essential nutrients.
“We are specialists in deep soil cultivation. We have been promoting this solution for many years, and we have been testing its positive effect on soil fertility and the yield in the grown crops in cooperation with scientific organisations and leading agricultural businesses.“
If you want to achieve high-quality deep processing with perfect mixing, then we recommend using narrow chisels with a diameter of 40 mm, which easily penetrate to a greater depth. For tillage at a shallower depth, chisels with a diameter of 3.1 inches fitted with wings are an ideal choice, which guarantees excellent undercutting of the entire soil profile at the set working depth.
FENIX depth cultivators are suitable tools for deep soil cultivation of up to 14 inches. The optimally designed layout of the individual tines provides excellent soil profile undercutting and mixing of crop residue with soil. Deep loosening provides soil with the proper structure, with the properties of a fungus that is able to absorb precipitation and provide water to roots in the dry season.Universal Cultivators
In recent years, combined machines that provide the advantages of soil cultivation with discs and tines, or chisel sections in a single pass, have become a major trend in the field of deep soil cultivation. The combined ACTROS RO cultivators, or the TERRALAND DO disc-chisel cultivators play an irreplaceable role in zero tillage cultivation systems, growing crops with large quantities of crop residue, such as grain maize.
The efficient combination of working parts provides, in a single pass, cutting and shallow mixing of crop residues with soil, with subsequent deep loosening, mixing and disruption of hardened soil layers, up to a depth of 18 inches.
Deep loosening up to 26 inches has become a revolutionary soil cultivation method compared with standard tillage. Soil cultivation using chisel ploughs allows for deeper soil processing and, above all, achieving higher output with a lower need for pulling power, leading to lower fuel consumption. The use of a chisel plough considerably reduces the time needed for soil cultivation before establishing the subsequent crop, since soil processed by a chisel plough is free from unevenness, clumps, and it is loosened well.
By using a chisel plough to loosen soil, you will achieve an ideally loosened soil structure with enough pores to allow for the movement of air, water and nutrients. TERRALAND chisel ploughs help increase rainwater absorption and eliminate the occurrence of puddles in the hardened areas of the field. The specially designed shape of the chisel also prevents bringing up infertile soil layers to the top.
Soil preparation is an important operation for the formation of a uniform and balanced seedbed prior to crop establishment. Each crop and field requires different soil preparation based on the climate, or the chosen date of cultivation. The aim of the seedbed cultivation is to create an ideal soil structure in the field, with a firmer sub layer and loose top soil layer, to level the field after previous operations, and to open, warm up and aerate the soil profile for even crop emergence.
Seedbed preparation is an essential operation, namely in conventional soil cultivation systems using the plough, where the SWIFTER seedbed cultivator, universal VERSATILL VO_PROFI cultivators, or universal SWIFTERDISC cultivators and the STRIEGEL – PRO straw harrow are used.
Inappropriate soil management (soil structure damage) and soil moisture may cause damage in spring that has a considerable effect on the final harvest outcome. When soil is processed too early, it becomes sticky; on the other hand, when the preparation starts too late, it reduces the water supply for spring crops. Therefore, the spring preparation should include as few passes over the field as possible, and appropriate soil maturity for cultivation.
Similar complications as in spring also occur in summer when it is often required to prepare soil during harvest for seeding winter crops, such as oilseed rape. In summer, there is no snow and frost that would help prepare a suitable, crumbling soil structure as in winter before the spring cultivation. Therefore, it is recommended to choose equipment with an aggressive tine angle for soil processing and mixing.
In addition to standard straw harrows and levellers, compactors are the most frequently used machines in seedbed soil cultivation after tillage. The SWIFTER seedbed cultivators are able to combine up to eight operations to create a quality seedbed for crop establishment during a single pass. It is important to minimize travelling across the field, especially during the spring cultivation, in order to maintain winter moisture in soil and eliminate its evaporation.
By combining several operations into a single pass, you can not only prepare a quality seedbed, but also reduce the costs of soil cultivation. The Crushbar leveller or a levelling bar break the rough furrow well and level the surface; the tine or gamma tip section create a loosened soil structure, and the efficient combination of rollers provide the perfect soil structure with final surface compaction, which is prevented from evaporation.
“We have become the most important global supplier of technology with a working width from 10 to 59.7 feet in this machine category thanks to the long-term development and testing.”
The VERSATILL VO_PROFI cultivators have proven to be effective, especially in fields with larger quantities of crop residue, or when processing wet soil. When compared with compactors, these cultivators have a higher throughput, and in combination with narrow chisels, they can easily process soil in depths exceeding 5.9 inches.VERSATILE VO_PROFI Cultivator
The rotary harrow with active working parts (rotors with spikes) used to be a very popular tool for soil cultivation. Their popularity declined with the advent and development of zero-tillage technologies. However, it still remains a popular machine on many important global markets such as France, Italy, Poland and Great Britain.
The rotary harrow is suitable for heavy, hard and dry soils. The active working parts that intensely mix and crumble soil up to a depth of 8 inches are an advantage of the rotary harrow. Thanks to that, the seedbed is cultivated evenly at the set depth level, soil is aerated and shows sufficient porosity of the individual soil particles.
The STRIEGEL-PRO straw harrow is an ideal solution for early spring cultivation of lighter soils, or for opening, warming up and aerating heavier soils and acceleration their drying. In combination with the Crushbar leveller, the straw harrow levels the topsoil layer and any coarse unevenness. The tine section aerates and warms up the soil layers. The last two tine rows can be set at a different working angle, which allows it to achieve an excellent levelling effect.BEDNAR Straw Harrows
Even though soil cultivation is not the primary operation of a disc cultivator during the year, the SWIFTERDISC cultivator can also be used for this operation. The short machine design together with its low weight is undemanding for towing power, and so the cultivator can be used for the initial levelling of the rough furrow.
In combination with the Crushbar in front of the first disc row, SWIFTERDISC creates an even soil surface. The following two rows of discs provide an excellent crumbling effect thanks to the high circumferential speed. The rear packers have a sufficient crumbling effect and prevent fast evaporation of soil moisture by closing the soil profile.
“HARD BED, SOFT COVER”