The innovative combine-grain cart mashup machine that is the Tribine Harvester has been turning heads for the past few years at farm shows — and gaining converts, too. But what if the company’s machine could also be adapted to help sequester carbon and create a more “no-till-friendly” harvest?
That’s the promise of a new patent the company announced recently. “Agriculture has such a misnomer and a stigma about it from the release of carbon,” says James Shurts, chief operating officer, Tribine Harvester LLC. “The need is for deep tillage after harvest and tillage in general-release carbon. The hallmark of no-till is that it sequesters carbon and locks it in the ground.”
He explained that today’s traditional harvest operations — combine and grain cart moving back and forth through the field — create multiple compactions, and deep tillage is required.
The carbon sequestration system Tribine has patented, which will be available for harvest 2020, aims to maximize the company’ s machine in a new way. Shurts points out that the Tribine can already reduce compaction in the field through its confined traffic pattern. But the company wanted to go farther.
“With our core architecture, we have not marketed as well, but we’re a near no-till-ready machine in drier conditions,” Shurts observes. “We have minimal impact on the field.”
Carbon sequester tools
To take that advantage a step further, the company will launch two devices that can be added to the harvester.
The first is a behind-the-rear-wheel attachment that, in wetter conditions, removes any evidence of the machine passing through the field. It’s not a tillage unit, Shurts emphasizes. “It works like a soil shaper that provides minimal disturbance and puts the soil back the way it was after the machine passes.”
The second piece works with the Tribine’s 20,000-pound front lift capacity. This optional add-on is a cover crop seeder that can work right behind the corn head as the machine goes through the field. “When you’re done with the field, it is 100% no-till-ready, and we eliminate any perception of a track,” he says.
There’s no price for these new options yet, but Shurts says it was time for the company to go public with the new concept.
According to the original press statement, the system offers the potential to sequester up to 1.4 tons of carbon per acre in the soil. That happens when the farmer uses no-till and perhaps adds the cover crop practices. Engineer Robert Matousek, vice president, Tribine, adds that the solution removes up to 5 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, compared to farmland subjected to deep tillage very year.
“It changes the nature of the machine,” Shurts concludes.