Tillage Efficiency and Trash Management
Difficulties with the weather
In typical British fashion, 2023 has so far offered us a
rollercoaster of weather patterns. An unseasonably dry February, prompted many
a debate about whether it was too early to head into the fields to plant the
spring crops. Fluctuating temperatures hindered a few, but these same people
might have lived to rue their decision when the heavens opened in March and
barely drew breath until late May. But the sopping ground went almost as
quickly as it came leaving us with very hard ground through June. What happens
for the rest of the year could be anyone’s guess.
Narrow Weather Windows
These smaller windows between too wet and too dry mean that growers
need to be as efficient as possible with getting on the ground. A low
disturbance farming systems offers growers the advantage of fewer and more
rapid passes meaning that more work can be done in a narrower time frame,
approximately 30 minutes per hectare, where using a straw harrow such as the
Weaving Stubble Rake, whilst a conventional farming system requires as much as
250 minutes per hectare for ploughing or heavy discing.
With drier summers more likely through our changing climate,
it will be prudent to wait for a little rain before autumn cultivation, but be
cautious not to fall victim of wetter autumns.
Whilst a balanced rotation is ultimately recommended, we
often see growers prioritise high yielding cereals due to their short-term
profitability. But where long runs of high yielding cereals are planted, straw
incorporation becomes more difficult to manage and chaff can be a greater
challenge than straw. The chaff will fall to the base of the stubble and can
hold large amounts of moisture which will impede the soil from drying out. This
can serve to make autumn drilling even more challenging. These problems can be
minimised where a straw harrow is used at a minimum 45° angle to the direction of the
combine, immediately after harvest when straw and chaff are still dry and
stubble has yet to become brittle.
The Weaving Stubble Rake was developed to serve this
purpose. It is robustly designed, fitted with 16mm diameter heavy duty tines
across 5 rows allowing plenty of clearance for high straw and trash through-flow.
The Weaving Stubble Rake is equipped with 3 hydraulic cylinders, which are
connected to the tines to determine the stroke length and ultimately the tine pitch.
These cylinders are part of a closed-circuit including accumulators to absorb
shock loads, which have a hydraulic cushioning effect to ensure consistent even
spread of crop residues when riding over uneven terrain. This helps to avoid
clusters of crop residue which if left can cause nitrogen lock up and inhibit
Working on the basis that 1cm of cultivation depth is required for every tonne/hectare of crop residue, where trash is denser, more vigorous shallow tillage may be needed and this is where the new Weaving Energiser maybe the preferred choice. This machine is equipped with 4 rows of oscillating 40mm coiled tines and a cast iron “V” ring roller, fitted with detachable clod breakers, all designed to both loosen the soil and incorporate trash to leave a firm and level stale seedbed ahead of drilling.