Farmers Run Own Vertical Tillage Comparisons

Farmers with four brands gather in the same field to test them out.

Published on: Oct 29, 2010
Maybe some equipment dealers aren't crazy about the idea of putting several different brands of vertical tillage tools in the field at the same time and going head-to-head with the competition.. But vertical tillage is hot, and farmers want to see the tools run. Preferably, they want to see them run side-by-side. The problem is that they're not just comparing the tools, they're also trying to determine if they like the vertical tillage concept at the same time.

Vertical tillage amounts to running straight or slightly curved blades at high speed across the soil, trying to incorporate residue one to maybe two inches deep. Done correctly, more residue is covered that if the field is left for no-till, but more soil is covered than if the field is hit with a heavy, deep conventional disking or chisel plowed.

Various companies are following various concepts. Salford, for example, using the original RTS model, is after minimal incorporation. Their explanation is that they wanted just enough tillage to start the breakdown process in the fall, but leave as much soil covered as possible. If you're used to seeing lots of tillage, that may not be enough movement of residue and soil for you. Those who are patient and let the breakdown occur claim they like the results. Just to cover more of the market, Salford introduced the RTS EX, standing for extreme, just recently. The front row of coulters have some curve to them, although it is still meant to be run fast and shallow.

One farmer reports that four different models wound up in the same field in the same time frame a few days ago in central Indiana. One farmer brought in a Landoll he had just purchased to demonstrate. A dealer brought over a Case model. Another dealer came to the field with the McFarland version of the tool. There was also a Salford running in the field. Other companies that are making vertical till machines that weren't tested that day include Great Plains and the new vertical tillage tool from Sunflower, an AGCO company.

Again, this wasn't a company demonstration- it was simply organized by a farmer interesting in buying a tool. He wanted sot see how they performed on his own land. Several neighbors stopped by to visit. They made their own judgments as whether Brand X moved enough soil and did enough incorporation for them, or whether Brand Y did too much, and so forth.

They also noticed how well the units made it through heavy, tough corn stalks. Some apparently handled those better than others. And they were interested in how well the tools pulled. Some have bigger tractors than others, and need to make sure they can handle any machine that they might buy. All in all, it was farmer to farmer, machine to machine outing, and a chance to see what each could do in the field, the farmers report.