Flexible tine harrows are
having a big impact on the
way producers perk up their
grassland, it appears.
Peter Hill reports
ASA means of rejuvenating permanent pasture or grass leys, these implements represent an attractive alternative to conventional methods for farmers wanting a cost-cutting or organic approach to improving grass yield and quality.
Light and cheap to run, with decent working widths giving high work rates, tine harrows can give pastures a gentle combing to remove dead grass or a more aggressive action to open up the soil surface for improved aeration. They have also proved effective at spreading dried manure evenly, as well as levelling mole hills.
Taking the task of mechanical rejuvenation one step further, the Hatzenbichler (from Opico), Einbock (from Coleman Enterprises) and UK-built Quantock Machinery pasture harrows can now be equipped with seed broadcasting kits.
The tines can create just enough tilth for seed dropped into it to germinate and establish well. And, as a means of extending the life of a grass ley with an injection of young growth, it certainly beats traditional reseeds for cost and convenience.
All three companies produce pneumatic seeders comprising a central hopper, land-wheel drive to a metering unit to maintain the required seeding rate, a fan and plastic tube distribution system, and spreader plates on the harrow tine frames to broadcast the seed.
Steel following rollers can be added to the Einbock machine, as can a mechanical full-width seed box.
Opicos Hatzenbichler range also includes a mechanical seed box version – the Vertikator. This also has soft rubber following rolls to improve seed/soil contact, and a levelling bar across the front of the implement to prepare the way. There are three sizes up to 3m (9ft 10in) wide.
General pasture titivation is the main role of these implements, however, encouraging earlier and more abundant grass growth, consequent savings in fertiliser costs, and a potential reduction in herbicide usage by mechanically removing growth inhibiting weeds such as chickweed.
For farm use, implements start with rigid-framed models 3m (9ft 10in) wide – though smaller units for paddock and other uses are available – through the more popular 6m to 9m (20ft to 30ft) sizes and on up to 12m (40ft) models from Opico and Quantock.
Moreover, the success of the imports has spawned UK manufacturers to shamelessly copy the idea – hence the appearance of "clone" implements in the product portfolios of Browns Agricultural Machinery, P J Parmiter, Twose of Tiverton and Quantock Machinery.
Though there are some detail variations, these implements are all very similar. The Hatzenbichler and Twose harrows are alone in having flexible tine frames which, the companies say, enables them to follow ground contours more faithfully. But all have tine angle adjustment (by central lever on each harrow section) to alter the aggressiveness of the tine action.
For light grass work (especially on new leys) or weeding forage and other crops, 7mm flexible tines are recommended, while the stiffer, and therefore more aggressive, 8mm tines are best restricted to tough grassland work only.
Most manufacturers offer a choice of tine sizes (they are all much the same length), but stiffening bars are also available to reinforce the tines when an extra-aggressive action is needed.
Tine spacing differs to some extent, the Lely and Hatzenbichler harrows being set-up as standard with tines at 40mm and 30mm, respectively, while the Einbock, Browns, Parmiter and Quantock implements have a more intensive layout from a 25mm tine spacing.
By using clamp fittings rather than a captive bolt drilled through the tine bars, Twose offers buyers a choice of 25mm and 30mm spacing.
The "clawing effect of the vibrating tines can be varied in the same way across all makes by adjusting tine angle – typically through up to ten settings – centrally using a lever coupled to the tines bars on each sections.
Depth wheels, adjustable by simple pin/hole arrangement, compensate for these settings as well as tine wear, and help the implement ride ground undulations.
Lelys Weeder breaks the mould by having individual tine tension adjustment and a more conventional full-width frame (folded for transport) which makes it better suited to flat, level ground more so than pasture on upland hills.
On the more typical multi-section tine harrows, all models larger than 4.5m (15ft) have hydraulic folding as a £100 to £400 option to avoid combing road-side hedges (or cars for that matter) – although hydraulic fold is fitted as standard on Quantock harrows. *
Pasture tine harrows
Working 8mm times 7mm times Tine spacing Number Folding
width (m) price (£) price (£) (mm) of tines manual/hydraulic
3 1585 na 25 120 manual
6 2950 na 25 240 manual
Coleman Enterprises (01553-828083) Einbock 3 1300 1300 25 120 manual
4.5 2050 2050 25 180 hyd £250
5 2200 2200 25 204 hyd £200
6 2800 2800 25 240 hyd std
6.3 2900 2900 25 254 hyd std
7.5 3700 3700 25 300 hyd std
8 3900 3900 25 324 hyd std
9 4100 4100 25 360 hyd std
With optional seeder attachment and 7mm tines: 3m (9ft 10in) £4995; 6m (20ft) £7900
4.5 na 1925 40 114 hyd £405
6 na 2780 40 154 hyd std
Opico (01778-421111) Hatzenbichler
3 1613 1547 30 100 na
4.5 2223 2179 30 150 hyd £426
5 2259 2215 30 166 hyd £434-£416*
6 2810 2755 30 200 hyd £107-£105*
6.4 2997 2960 30 213 hyd std
7.5 3965 3887 30 250 hyd std
8 4468 4380 30 266 hyd std
12 na 6283 30 400 hyd std
With optional seeder attachment and 7mm tine:From £5164 for 4.5m (15ft) to £7432 for 7.5m (25ft)
3 1560 1520 25 120 na
4.5 2250 2200 25 180 hyd £350
5 2325 2270 25 204 hyd £350
6 2640 2490 25 240 hyd £260-£350*
3 1570 1540 25 120 manual
4 2280 2240 25 168 hyd std
5 2710 2660 25 204 hyd std
6 2980 2920 25 240 hyd std
9 5550 5460 25 360 hyd std
12 6390 6270 25 480 hyd std
Optional seeder attachment with 7mm tine: From £5260 for 4m (13ft) to £6300 for 6m (20ft)
3 1510 na 30 96 manual
3 1565 na 25 120 manual
4.5 2135 na 30 144 hyd £400
4.5 2200 na 25 180 hyd £400
5 2230 na 30 160 hyd £350
5 2320 na 25 204 hyd £340
6 2535 na 30 192 hyd £255
6 2610 na 25 240 hyd £265
* Add-on cost of hydraulic folding with 8mm and 7mm tines respectively