Fresh thinking has gone into new ideas for soil preparation ahead of the drill which are being unveiled this autumn, Peter Hill reports.
MORE work from one implement -that was a common thread among many of the cultivation equipment exhibits at this years Royal Show.
Approaches include either refining the way implements work to enhance their action; or by increasing versatility so that single implements can be used in a wider range of situations and conditions.
A prime example of the latter is provided by a second foray into cultivations equipment for Knight Farm Machinery (the Lincs company made a square-mouldboard plough a few years ago), with a heavy duty ring press.
Nothing exceptional about that, at first sight, except that the Triple-Press embodies fresh thinking in just about every aspect of its design.
Devised by arable farmer Tony Gent and design engineer Ken Taylor (both previously responsible for the Flat-Lift soil loosener, Wilder Pressure Harrow and Reco Integrator), the Triple-Press is designed for such diverse duties as a Cambridge roller, ring press and heavy land packer.
It achieves this principally through a set of four slabs of steel, each weighing 1t. These can be changed to achieve the appropriate weight for the task to be performed.
Each weight can be slid from its rack on the central main frame by using either forklift tines or a sling.
The novel cast rings also play a part, says Tony Gent.
"They have a narrow-tipped cross-section for the clod splitting action of a ring press, with broad shoulders provide the consolidating action of a roller," he points out.
The rings themselves are spaced 262mm apart along the two axles, (giving an effective spacing half that) and are formed from three cast sections, each secured to a steel plate centre by three bolts.
"This arrangement means you may only have to replace one section, instead of a complete ring, if there is some damage," Tony Gent points out. "And you dont have to dismantle the implement."
That would be impossible anyway as the ring centres are welded to the axle tube, doing away with either individual rings becoming stuck, Belleville washers or larger tightening nuts.
Prices are £19,491, £22,495 and £25,984 for the three sizes from 6-10m, including a single 1t weight; additional weights are £699 apiece.
The Cultipress from heavy tillage equipment specialist Simba is a version of the firms existing Double-Press with trailing spring-steel plates added between the leading tines and interlocking cast rings.
The tines help level ground after preceding tining, discing or ploughing operations, and give the heavy press rings a more even surface to work on.
The spring steel trailing plates have been added to enhance the implements clod-crushing performance after carefully watching video evidence of the way clods can escape the attentions of the cast rings.
"Traditionally, double presses may be run with the front gang working shallower than the rear, simply to ease the passage of earth," explains Simba design director Philip Wright.
"This way, although the front rings do some clod breaking, they also align clods ahead of the rear rings.
"With the Cultipress, its the plates that fulfil this aligning role so that both sets of rings have a full clod breaking and crushing effect."
The plates are slightly v-shaped to move clods sideways into the path of the leading rings and to create a shallow groove that traps escaping clods in the path of the second rings. Correctly set, the plates will themselves break up larger clods.
The amount of pressure applied to the plates is adjustable by hydraulic ram, in work if necessary to suit different soil strengths and cloddiness. A gas accumulator plumbed into the circuit provides a cushion against large stones.
Leading tines on the implement are adjustable between inclined and vertical settings and those behind the tractor wheels can be set to work a little deeper to eliminate wheelings.
The aim is to maintain a controlled bow wave of soil ahead of the tines, to achieve a cultivating action through clod abrasion, and then leave a level finish for natural weathering, adds Philip Wright.
"Unless the seedbed is level, subsequent cultivation or drilling tends to move weathered soil off the peaks into the troughs and you end up with an inconsistent seedbed structure," he comments. "That must have a bearing on crop emergence."
The Cultipress is being produced in five sizes between 3.3m and 6.6m, with weights approximately 1125kg/m and prices from £13,684 to £28,856.
Trailing plates also feature on the Vari-Till from an Irish newcomer to the tillage equipment scene, Erth Engineering, Seaforde, Co Down.
The Vari-Till is a tine cultivator unit for use on its own or as the basis of a combination tiller-drill; it comes with two or three rows of spring tines, rubber tyre, toothed steel or coil packers and with the spring steel plates up front.
"The ski-type action of the plates has several functions," says David McCoubrey of Erth Engineering.
"They level the soil, their scrubbing action breaks clods, and they consolidate the ground by pushing more stubborn clods into the surface giving the tines that follow something firmer to work against."