Deep ripping is this the missing link

Testing harrow flexiroller combos. This spring-mounted harrow design from Agrowplow mixes the soil as it passes over the ripped ground, alleviating any deep furrows

Much has been made of the benefits of deep ripping in recent years.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is just one organisation that has conducted numerous studies across Australia.

Their research showing highly promising yield results for ripping conducted between 500 and 600mm in Western Australia’s sandy soils, especially when combined with inclusion plates for topsoil slotting and fertilising activity.

Traditional deep ripping leaves distinct furrows in the ground that adversely affect seeding accuracy – but harrows and rollers can fix any issues and produce higher crop yields

More recently, farmers in Victoria had the opportunity to see the benefits for themselves at a demo day hosted by Mallee Sustainable Farming.

Industry veterans such as Wayne Parker and Brad Bennett offered insights and practical recommendations ensuring maximum benefit from ripping activity.

One of the challenges of deep ripping is ensuring an ideal seedbed following any ripping or cultivating activities.

Agrowplow Relationship Manager Dean Symons attaches the trial harrow unit. The first of these had a traditional harrow design of a series of spring-mounted bars which swept up and to the side at 45 degrees. The second unit utilised a paddle-spring design that scraped along the ground, leaving a smooth finish

Farmers, up until now, have only had a few options.

The first is following up ripping activity with additional seedbed preparation work such as offsets and chains. At best, this is an unnecessary and expensive operation; at worst it contributes to the compaction that the deep ripping removed.

The second option is to leave the ripped paddock as is, and simply accept that any seeding is going to result in a loss of accuracy and consequently, a reduction of overall harvest profits.

During the testing this seedbed prepared by the paddle-springs scraped easily along the ground, leaving a noticeably smoother surface

Agrowplow’s mission has always been to reduce labour and improve yields. While their range of deep tillage ploughs already offers farmers a superior means of reducing compaction and shattering hardpan, they looked at the resulting seedbeds and asked, “can we make this better.”

The results of their recent trial of plough harrow units suggest that the answer is a definite yes.

The trial saw an Agrowplow AP71 with hydraulic shanks and trailing Flexiroller outfitted with two different trial harrow units, which were tested on a property outside Molong NSW.

The first of these featured a traditional harrow design of a series of spring-mounted bars which swept up and to the side at 45 degrees.

The second unit utilised a paddle-spring design that scraped along the ground, leaving a smooth finish.

Each of these two units distributes some 300 kilograms of weight along the ground to distribute soil evenly along the length of the harrow bar.

This harrowing was followed by the trailing Flexiroller, that further enhanced the final seedbed.

The final results speak for themselves.

Each test unit delivered a noticeable improvement in a premium seedbed finish than the untreated ripped ground.

Agrowplow’s Relationship Manager, Dean Symons, was on-site to coordinate the test and was very pleased with the result.

“It was pretty incredible,” he said. “We’re used to seeing these distinctive furrows left by the ripper even after the Flexiroller works the ground.

With the harrow springs though, those furrows were barely visible and the paddle spring unit left a perfectly tilled seedbed.”

The harrow units will undergo further testing at Agrowplow as they are further assessed for potential pain points in the design.

“There’s still a bit of work to be done before it’s ready to go,” said Dean.

“Among other things, we’re looking at modifying the spring mounting to make it easier to manufacture.

But in the end, we’ll have a harrow unit that’s simple to make, that’s durable, and can be easily retrofitted to multiple brands of ploughs on the market, and well in time for next season.”

For more information on the test units discussed here and the expanding range of Agrowplow seed drills, deep tillage ploughs and flexi-rollers, or to become a dealer, contact Agrowplow on tel: 1300 722 491, or go to www.agrowplow.com.au