Developments in working depth control make it easier to adapt implements to changing conditions across the field, but one tillage equipment specialist now offers control of individual legs across the working width of the implement itself. Jane Carley reports.
Designed to allow the individual working depth adjustment of cultivation elements across the working widths of its implements, Cultivating Solutions has extended the flexibility of its tillage and drilling implements with the development of the Independent Leg System (ILS).
Currently, the company’s suite of cultivation tools feature low disturbance soil loosening legs mounted on a hydraulically depth adjustable toolbar, allowing alteration of depth from the tractor cab, on-the-move, of all the legs. ILS is designed as the next step in flexibility in controlling cultivation depth, taking the control of leg depth to an individual leg basis if required. Thus greater flexibility of control of working depth across and within the working width of the machine can be achieved, says the manufacturer. This allows working depth to be adapted to soil conditions based on the requirement of that particular worked area of the machine.
Cultivating Solutions managing director Richard Scholes explains: “ILS appeals to the farmer or contractor requiring greater control over the working depth of loosening legs across and within the working width of a cultivator. Reducing the working depth of a soil engaging leg from 200mm to 150mm can reduce the draft requirement needed to pull the leg by 50 per cent, delivering useful cost savings.”
Controlled Traffic Farming (CTF) systems offer a good example of the potential for the ILS, and is likely to be where the most demand for the system comes from, Mr Scholes suggests. “Legs on the machine that are in the direct line of the tractor wheels – the area which has suffered traffic damage/compaction- can be operated at a greater depth than those working across the remainder of the width of the machine where there has been no traffic/compaction. These legs can be removed from work completely if required.
Two hydraulic cylinders feature on each leg, one to adjust the working depth of the leg while a second cylinder takes care of raise and lower in and out of work.
“Equally this could appeal in non-CTF regimes where there is a requirement to loosen any wheeling (combine, tramline etc), dictating the need to have some legs on a machine working to a greater depth than the remainder of the machine.”
In a CTF system there is also a growing requirement to avoid soil loosening in the tramlines in order to keep a tramline as a firm/solid soil zone, particularly with the use of permanently located traffic ways. The ILS system allows legs located in-line with the tramlines to simply be raised from work.
“You could set the legs out of work on a tramline while the other group are set to 100mm deep,” Mr Scholes explains, “Alternatively, where intermediate wheelings need to be loosened, the legs could be set deeper.”
He suggests that there is also growing interest in limiting soil working where there is a need to avoid disturbance of weed seed banks, especially where black-grass is concerned. “The ILS would allow the legs to be set to minimal depth in affected areas,” he comments.
ILS also has highly practical applications such as dropping all the legs in on to loosen a heavily compacted headland.
Each leg is mounted as an individually controlled unit which can be linked to others. A gauge gives a visual indication of leg working depth.
ILS allows individual legs, or more commonly, groups of legs, to be controlled for depth hydraulically on the move, and separate to other groups of legs on the machine.
In operation, control of legs is achieved by mounting each leg as an individually controlled unit which can be linked to others. Two hydraulic cylinders feature on each leg; one to adjust the working depth of the leg while a second cylinder takes care of raise and lower in and out of work.
Where groups of legs are linked together, they mimic each other’s travel to ensure that the same depth is achieved. The operator can activate the legs manually using the spool valves and/or via an electronic control box, an approach used on the firm’s RapidLift toolbar, commonly fitted to the front of a cultivator drill.
On Cultivating Solutions’ new Genesis CTF drill, control is automatic via a touch screen. The ILS can also be operated from a soil map using RTK steering to give variable rate cultivations. “Of course adjustment of leg working depth can always be done manually, but generally where the operator has to change the depth, it doesn’t happen!” says Mr Scholes.
ILS is available on certain models of RapidLift and will be offered for the Genesis CTF drill in late 2015. It will also be available on the Titan combination cultivator range during 2016. Prices are POA and will be a small premium over standard versions of Cultivating Solutions machine range.
Joe Dugdale is one of the first customers to trial the ILS on a Rapid Lift fitted to his 4m Vaderstad Rapid drill this autumn. Crathorne Farms, near Yarm in Cleveland is moving to a CTF system, and the ILS will be used to divide the 600 hectares (1,482 acres) of arable land between the tramlines and the main body of the field.
“We cultivate using a Horsch Terrano, with the legs taken off behind the tractor wheels to avoid pulling up the tramlines,” Mr Dugdale explains. “When working between the tramlines with the drill and RapidLift, the legs behind the tractor wheels are in work to remove compaction; on tramlines the legs are out, and on the headland all legs are in.”
An electronic control box activates the leg movements via the hydraulics for each set of legs.
“We have only tested it on cover crops so far, but it should save fuel as well as allowing us to manage tramlines and tackle compaction that is still in place from our previous cropping regime before we move up to a wider system.”