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Corn+Soybean Digest

Bury Cotton Stalks, Rebed In One Pass

A new moldboard plow enables conventional cotton growers to bury stalks and rebed a field in just one pass. It helps reduce compaction and can save producers up to $50 per acre in reduced equipment and fuel usage.

The Pegasus plow, introduced recently in Texas and Arizona, has proved itself in USDA cotton tests. And Missouri on-farm demonstrations indicate it should also help corn growers control stalks better, says Gary Thacker, who developed the plow in Tucson, AZ.

"The new plow solves a long-time problem of getting rid of cotton stalks after harvest," says Sam Miller, Pecos, TX, who used the plow on over 3,500 cotton acres.

"It has helped us save several trips through the field and saved up to $50 per acre."

Available in four- and six-row models, the plow features moldboard plow units that open 12"- to 14"-deep, 6"-wide slots next to each plant row. A fixed knife on each plow cuts the tap roots.

A large disk blade with teeth engages stalks and packs them into the slot behind the moldboard. As the machine moves forward, soil falls back into the trench to cover the stalks. Disc-bedders on the rear relist the beds in their original location. All moving parts are powered by the soil as the tractor pulls the plow forward.

"The plow isn't a root puller," says Thacker, a former Arizona county extension agent. "When you pull roots, you create a disposal problem. The Pegasus stuffs the roots and stalks under the bed."

He developed the plow over the last seven years.

"Many cotton growers are unable to use no-till or extreme minimum-till farming due to various conditions," he says. "Conventional plowing was the only option. They still had stalks to contend with, as well as compaction. We developed a plow that would handle both problems."

The plow buries stalks in a rope-like fashion. Within a few months, they decay into rotted organic material. It should enable growers to meet regional stalk plow-down requirements in controlling pink bollworm, says Thacker.

The plow eliminates five or more passes, says USDA ag engineer Lyle Carter, who has tested the plow three years in Shafter, CA. Wheel traffic is confined to traffic furrows and kept off root zones. Running the Pegasus concentrates tillage work and energy in the row root zones as opposed to across the entire field, says Carter.

If compaction problems persist, then in-row ripping with a tool such as the Paratill can shatter compaction layers without moving the buried stalks, he says.

Thacker says the plow did a good job of burying cornstalks during Missouri field tests.

"It buried both cornstalks and root balls and should also do a good job with soybeans or any row crop," he says.

Miller says that, even if there aren't stalks to be buried, the plow can save numerous trips through the field.

The four-row plow weighs about 5,000 lbs. In 38-40" rows, about 135 hp are needed to pull it 4 to 4.5 mph and cover 4.5 to 5 acres per hour. For the six-row unit, 200 hp are needed to plow at 4 to 4.5 mph and cover 7 to 7.5 acres per hour.

List price is about $25,000 for the four-row and $35,000 for the six-row. But if a grower saves $50 per acre and has even 500 acres of production, the four-row unit is paid for in one year.

"We believe it was a good investment," says Miller.

For further information, contact Pegasus Machinery Co. at 800-FST-PLOW, or its distributor, Bigham Brothers, Inc., Lubbock, TX. That company has representatives in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Missouri. Its toll-free number is 800-692-4449.

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