The sheer spectacle of seeing six
high-horsepower, four-wheel drive tractors working in one field at
the same time made attending last week’s vertical tillage field day
worth the trip; everything else was a bonus. Held near Lipton,
Saskatchewan, and organized by Tri-Star Farm Services
(www.tristarfarms.com), implements and factory reps from three
manufacturers were on hand.
The machines went to work in a variety
of field conditions; and according to Kellen Huber, owner of
Tri-Star, many of the farmers in attendance were surprised by the
versatility of these tillage tools. Tractor operators ran them on pea
stubble, an overgrown alfalfa stand and thick pasture sod. Not only
did they leave impressive field finishes, but they did it at roughly
10 miles per hour. “Something farmers need to learn to accept is
doing cultivation at 10 miles per hour,” says Huber. “It’s a new
generation (of implement design). It’s cutting edge.”
Based on what I saw, that comment is no
exaggeration. The new generation of high-speed tillage implements—not
all of which actually fall strictly under the vertical tillage
definition—are bound to change the way most farmers will do
cultivation in the future.
And there seems to be a renewed
interest in tillage these days, even long-time, no-till producers are
turning back to the idea of churning up soil once in a while, but
only on an as-needed basis. “You have to have residue. There has to
be a need for it,” comments Huber. And he’s right. Unlike decades
past, when some farmers would claim every tillage pass on summer
fallow added a certain number of bushels to their yield the following
year, we’ve moved beyond that flawed thinking.
Residue buildups on no-till fields and
the tough growing seasons we’ve experienced on the prairie in the
last couple of years are driving demand for vertical tillage tools.
“(Vertical tillage) deals with the worst kind of conditions
possible,” says Todd Botterill, of Botterill Sales in Newton,
Manitoba. “They deal with those real problem times, but they also
get you through the good years.” And that ability has generated a
fast-growing demand for implements here, in the west.
The Lemken Heliodor is a popular
choice among Saskatchewan farmers looking for an implement to
incorporate field residue.
Doug Achtymichuk, Saskatchewan regional
sales manager for Salford, a vertical tillage implement manufacturer,
says the company has seen unprecedented growth in demand for its RTS
models in that province. And the story is the same in the other
As more farmers get a chance to see
vertical and other high-speed, minimum tillage tools at work in
fields, that growth in demand is likely to continue. If you have a
chance to get out to one of these field demonstrations, don’t pass it
up. These implements deserve a close look.
Watch for a full article on the field
demo in the pages of Grainews this fall. And look for a video
appearing under the “videos” link on the Grainews homepage within
the next couple of weeks.
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