Vertical tillage is without question one of the hottest trends in tillage equipment today. From the majors to the shortliners, several manufacturers now offer their own interpretation of vertical tillage equipment. But what exactly is vertical tillage, and why is vertical tillage equipment so important to today’s growers?
As the name implies, vertical tillage equipment works the soil vertically. The goal is to correct sub-soil compaction and its effects on plant growth, so roots can grow deep into the soil and plants can more efficiently uptake moisture and nutrients.
GREAT PLAINS MFG. created the category nearly 8 years ago with the launch of its Turbo-Till tillage tool and Turbo coulters aimed at helping farmers manage residue, reduce compaction, and provide a consistent well prepared seed bed for planting.
“Corn can sense soil density, so when the roots reach a density change, the plant will stop growing down and the roots will go sideways,” explains Tom Evans, vice president of sales & marketing for Great Plains. “With this tool, we shatter the subsoil structure so that moisture and root growth can penetrate deep into the soil profile.”
AGCO recently introduced a new vertical tillage system, the Sunflower 6630 SoilRazor VT, designed to cut through tough residue and open cold, wet soils to the sun’s warming action for earlier planting.
“Vertical tillage is an increasingly popular practice used today to overcome cold, damp soil conditions and the tough structure and sheer volume of today’s crop residues,” notes Larry Kuster, AGCO senior marketing specialist.
“The process of combining vertical surface tillage and residue control allows producers to get into the field sooner in the spring so they can take advantage of a full growing season.”
HCC recently entered the vertical tillage market with its Smart-Till line, which uses a 3-tine blade design that can fracture soils at depths of more than 8 in. The self-sharpening tines are adjustable to 10 degrees, and HCC’s newest machine, the Smart-Till ST 203, is a 20-ft. model that folds to a transport width of 15 ft.
EARTHMASTER, division of Alamo, made two big announcements at its dealer event at the show. First was a commitment to become a full tillage line under the Earthmaster name and second was the unveiling of the Verti-Go, which marked the firm’s entrance into the vertical tillage market. “More farmers are seeing residue issues on BT corn,” says Greg Pollock.
Most unique, he says, is the saw-tooth SoilRazor blade design, which sharpens as it wears, extending the life over more acres. He added that the bearing and c-springs are heavier than most other competitive units.