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Corn+Soybean Digest

Equipment Ingenuities Make Ridge-Till Hum

Farming 1,000 acres on ridges, Bill Broaddus has to cover a lot of ground in a hurry.

This Raymond, IL, corn and soybean grower built a dry fertilizer rig for fast application on ridges. And he has two 12-row cultivators for speedy weed control between ridges when wet weather narrows his window of opportunity to get that job done.

The customized fertilizer applicator can cover 160 acres in a day, and the two cultivators can run over his entire acreage in just three days.

Broaddus built the fertilizer applicator shortly after switching to ridge-till in 1991. He started by mounting coulters and Yetter knives on a Hiniker toolbar. In his farm shop, he built a hitch for pulling a fertilizer wagon behind the toolbar.

Next, he cut hoses and ran them from the wagon up to the knives. The Tyler wagon was built to blow fertilizer forward. Air pressure is provided by a Kubota diesel engine.

The wheels of the tractor, applicator and wagon all run between ridges, and weight is distributed evenly for minimum soil compaction.

Broaddus, who rotates corn and beans in 30" rows, knifes fertilizer 6-8" deep shortly after soybeans are harvested. He puts down 150 lbs of 18-46-0, 150 lbs of 0-0-62 and 50 lbs of pelletized lime per acre. The fertilizer combination is mixed by his local supplier and delivered in a tender.

The following spring, a pass with an AerWay tillage tool prepares soil in the rows for planting. That's done a day or even a few hours ahead of planting.

A herbicide is applied in 15" bands on the ridges, but he cultivates for between-row weed control. While some might question his need for two 12-row cultivators, he says they have removed the worry that he won't be able to cover all his acreage between rains.

"A lot of farmers who've tried ridging get into trouble when they cannot handle a wet period," Broaddus states. "I have the cultivators and feel confident that I can always find a window for getting the job done."

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