French manufacturer Agrisem, now being brought in by Yorkshire firm KRM, has some unusual touches. Its Combi-Plough deep soil loosener, which sits just behind the tractor’s back wheels, produces a wave of soil that is said to cut draft requirement and use less fuel.

This Gold version works down to 35cm, but there’s a 45cm option for those who want to break up deep compaction.

Behind it is the firm’s Disc O Mulch which uses 610mm and 560mm discs mounted on heavy-duty-looking pigtail tines that can move in all three planes to stir the soil up.

Two clod-boards smash up big lumps and the whole 3m unit on show needs 180-200hp. Cost of the 3m Gold Combi-Plough is £16,650 and the 3m Disc O Mulch costs £8,895.

Hydraulic leg can plumb the depths

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This was the first public working demo of Philip Watkins’ Tri-Till cultivator. This 3m version has the firm’s hydraulic new hydraulic leg depth system that can be altered independently of the rest of the machine.

It’s an £1,800 option that makes the most of the deep-tilling effect of the tines set just behind the tractor’s rear wheels and a gauge in the cab shows you exactly how deep they are running. It’s also suitable for use with the new Soyl auto-depth system.

The rest of the machine consists of two rows of 510mm discs on sealed bearings followed by a DD-type roller. More than half of all the machines are going out with a rape seeder fitted too, says Mr Watkins. Cost (without the leg depth system) is £16,700.

Great Plains tackles curse of blackgrass

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It was hard to walk more than a few yards at Tillage without hearing the dread word, blackgrass. Now firmly at the top of every farmer’s hate-list, it is also making certain features of cultivators unusually popular.

Great Plains, for instance, says that its disc-angling facility has now become a popular option because it allows the discs to move all the soil and thereby get a 50-75mm depth of soil that will ensure a good chit of weed seeds and blackgrass in particular.

A manual system with three positions that you alter manually comes as standard but the pukka £2,500 version, which allows you to do it hydraulically from the cab is becoming popular. It’s not the only firm to have this facility, but it’s obviously one that farmers want to have up their sleeves in the blackgrass battles to come.

Cultivating Solutions shows shows auto-depth system

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Tillage-Live was the first chance for farmers to see the ground-breaking auto-depth system jointly designed by machinery maker Richard Scholes and field mapping experts Soyl in action.

Look at the static Titan and you might think it was a regular cultivator. But once the system is switched on and the machine is working, a set of cultivator legs moves up and down seemingly randomly.

In fact those legs are working from a soil cultivation map which was already compiled using either a penetrometer/spade or a conductivity map. So, thanks to GPS, they know exactly where the land is either soft and easy-going or, conversely, tough and unyielding.On this machine, both the deep-loosening legs at the front and the discs at the back are capable of working automatically from soil maps. Getting it into action is easy – you just decide whether you want one or both parts of the machine to be auto depth guided.

It doesn’t take away the tractor driver’s ability to make changes to depth according to his own knowledge and skill, says Mr Scholes, and he can intervene at any stage to go for extra depth or less depth.

Who is it aimed at? Those with variable soils, of course, but there’s also the ability to automatically cultivate the headland two or three centimetres more than the rest of the field. And it’s good for those who want to be sure their staff keep well away from clay, stone or archaeological remains under their soil.

It could also help contractors – who inevitably won’t know as much about the soils as the farmer – to do a more accurate job. Cost is £12,000/m including the machine and software. Mapping is a £15/ha one-off cost.