Subsoiling grassland produces early growth spurt

A sub-soiler specifically designed to alleviate compaction in grassland has been developed by Opico.


Plenty of noise is made about the importance of avoiding compaction on arable land. However grazed swards and silage leys are often ignored, yet it is these areas that can often suffer worst.


Waterlogging can mean the ground is too wet for spring operations such as slurry and muck spreading, harrowing, fertilising and overseeding.


It also delays turnout for livestock. This affects forage requirements and productivity.


Opico’s Sward Lifter is designed to break up pans and surface compaction while lifting and opening the subsoil to improve aeration and drainage.


1. Spring-loaded discs run ahead of the tines to cut through the sward and prevent soil bursting on to the surface.


2. The legs – spaced at between 60cm and 90cm (24-35in) – cut slots through the ground to aid drainage down to a depth of 40cm (15in).


The points are wing-less so that any upward heave is kept to a minimum, lessening surface disturbance and the chance of soil contamination of the crop at harvest.


Each of these deep-working tines is shear-bolt-protected and will break back to avoid damage.


3. Finally, serrated press roller rings run directly behind the soil-loosening legs to close the slots and level the surface.


The Sward Lifter is available in two formats:


2.7m with three legs, a power requirement of 100hp and a pricetag of £4996.


3m with five legs, a power requirement of 125hp and a pricetag of £8142.


The Sward Lifter has been trialled on a number of farms around the UK this last year.


So far there’s been little opportunity to quantify its success but users have reported much earlier growth on sub-soiled pastures. Cows have been turned out to grass three weeks earlier than usual in some places as a result of the improved drainage.


We’ll be following the trials through the growing season and reporting back on exactly how much of a yield benefit there is in sub-soiling grassland.


See the Opico Sward Lifter at the ScotGrass equipment demonstration on 15th May near Dumfries.
For more information about the event visit www.aea.uk.com or call 01733 362925.