A MARKET GUIDE TO FLEXIBLE
With wide working widths,
easy transportability and the
potential to re-seed tired
pastures, spring tine harrows
have become the grassland
farmers flexible friend.
Peter Hill rounds up whats
As a means of rejuvenating permanent pasture or grass leys, flexible tine harrows have been proved an attractive and practical alternative to conventional implements and methods for farmers wanting a cost-cutting or organic approach to improved grass yield and quality.
Work rates are good, too, thanks to generous widths and the need for a bit of speed to get best results. And with central tine angle adjustment, these implements can give pastures a gentle combing to remove dead grass or a firm raking to take out weeds and open up the soil surface for improved aeration.
Spreading dried manure and levelling mole hills are also done effectively with these machines, although the latter can prove more of a challenge unless plenty of pressure is applied to the tines, and the 8mm tines recommended for grass work are used.
Several manufacturers have taken the theme of mechanical pasture rejuvenation one step further by introducing grass seed broadcasters – and these have been something of a success, judging by the experience of users.
These attachments do not come cheap. But with the tines creating just enough tilth for seed to germinate – following rollers on the Einbock machine should help in this respect – grass leys that are getting thin and past their best can be improved with fresh growth.
And – unlike using conventional methods – not only at minimal cost but with no lost production.
These pneumatic seeders comprise a central hopper, land-wheel drive to a metering unit to maintain the required seeding rate, and a fan, usually with electric or hydraulic drive, or pto on larger machines. Plastic tubes distribute seed to the outlets where spreader plates on the harrow tine frames broadcast it.
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 weeds that inhibit grass growth.
For farm use, implements start with 3m (9ft 10in) wide rigid-framed models. Thereafter, folding frames are fitted with hydraulic rams; either to fold the wing sections vertically or, on the widest implements, gull-wing fashion.
Tine harrows for use in paddocks and other small-field situations include the 2m and 3m Compact models from Parmiter and the 2m compact from Quantock, which have hitch arrangements to suit compact tractors. Logics two trailed examples are also designed for use behind such tractors, or a quad or 4×4.
Though there are some detail variations, these implements are remarkably similar (often sharing the same tines and structural features), although the Hatzenbichler from Opico maintains its individuality with 30cm (12in) tine spacing in contrast to the 25cm (10in) spacing of all the others.
This range (and those from Twose of Tiverton) also have flexing tine frames which, the companies say, enables them to follow ground contours more faithfully.
All have tine angle adjustment, using a lever positioned centrally on each harrow section, to alter the aggressiveness of the tine action, and most have a choice of 7mm and 8mm tines, the former being better suited to arable-type operations such as weeding in organic crops (because the tines vibrate weeds out of the soil) or broadcasting rapeseed.
Stiffening bars can be added in some cases to reinforce the tines; and the support tubes developed by Quantock are designed to reduce tine breakages from excessive localised flexing.
Depth wheels, adjustable usually by a simple pin and hole arrangement, compensate for different tine angle settings (as well as tine wear), and help the implement ride ground undulations.
Parmiters grass harrow is available with a pneumatic seeder unit for reseeding tired pastures.
Browns pasture harrow comes in 3m, 5m and 6m (9ft 10in, 16ft 5in and 20ft) sizes with manual folding.
Opicos Hatzenbichler harrows have flexible frames to help follow ground contours.