Farmer-inventor – one pass with a big difference
By Andy Collings
IF enthusiasm counts for anything, Tony Harding must one day succeed in his quest to produce an agricultural implement that will change the world.
Based at St Catherines Farm, Cerne Abbas, Dorset, Mr Harding has a string of original constructions behind him – several of which are now in commercial production. His latest creation is a one-pass cultivator.
So whats new about a one-pass cultivator? On the face of it, not a lot. But Mr Hardings design offers some interesting features which could just make it a winner.
With a working width of 3m (10ft) the Harding Cultivator leads off with seven subsoiling legs set in two banks. These are followed by a set of heavy-duty coil tines and finally a crumbler roller.
Pretty conventional so far but the clever part is to know that the working depth of each individual cultivation component can be adjusted hydraulically.
The result is a cultivator which can be set to perform a variety of tasks. With the subsoiling tines set to work at a maximum depth of 40cm (16in) and the coil tines working at say, 10cm (4in) soil can be both subsoiled, cultivated and pressed with the following crumbler roller.
The action of the crumbler roller, on which about 40% of the implements 1.4t weight is supported, deserves further mention. Raised or lowered hydraulically in unison with the tractor three-point linkage to provide overall depth control, it can also be pivoted forwards to bring it closer to the coil tines. When in the full forward position it provides a backstop for the coil tines, preventing them from becoming over stressed in heavy soil conditions and also helps to prevent a build up of surface crop residues around the tines when conditions are "trashy".
Vertical strips welded to the bars of the roller are designed to increase cultivation action.
Where subsoiling is not deemed to be necessary, working depth of the front legs and coil tines can be set at near identical depths.
"It is the versatility of the machine which I hope will appeal to farmers," says Mr Harding. "With on-board hydraulic depth control for each of the sections the operator can continually monitor and fine-tune the action of the cultivator – in any soil conditions."
Power requirement is thought to be in the region of 100-120hp – the prototype built during the summer last year is reported by Mr Harding to have "danced along" when pulled by his 110hp Case 5140, the draft provided by angled subsoiler tines helping to ensure positive traction.
So what for the future? Having spent significant funds developing the cultivator along with project partner David Chaffey, Mr Harding is now looking for a manufacturer to produce and market his patent-protected design.
Further planned developments include the attachment of a seeder unit to sow catch crops of mustard, stubble turnips or grass seed.
Dorset farmer Tony Harding with his home-built, one-pass cultivator.