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Corn+Soybean Digest

Strong, Super-Sized Sidedressers | Two Farmers Tell How They Built On-Farm Sidedressing Tools on a Budget

90-Footer From Minnesota
David Burk, Amboy, MN, is sold on sidedressing and has been at it since 1986. “As soon as we can row the corn, we’ll start to sidedress with 90 units of nitrogen (N) per acre,” he says. “Ideally, N goes on between the V3 and V6 stages.”

With plenty of corn to sidedress, getting N on quickly was a top priority. So in 2007 he designed a 90-ft. toolbar and Bob Groneweg of Rock Valley, IA, built it. “We can sidedress 1,046 acres in 24 hours, with just a two-hour break. At 6 mph we empty a tank in 50 min. on 57 acres.”

When you eyeball this new sidedress tool, the first thing you notice is that it doesn’t have any assist wheels. “I wanted a bar without lift assist because the anhydrous tanks always get tangled up with them,” he says.

So Burk modified a two-point hitch from an IH 183 cultivator and linked it to the three-point hitch on his four-wheel-drive tractor. “Unlike my 90-ft. planter, you don’t even know it’s back there,” he says.

The center section of the seven-section toolbar used the rigid toolbar from a 12-row planter with a toolbar from an IH 183 cultivator welded just 2 in. behind it. A third toolbar completes the center frame. He reinforced the center section with trusses similar to bridge designs from the 1940s.

The three tubes of the center section have hydraulic cylinders mounted internally to lift the rest of the frame into travel position. Single, internally mounted hydraulic cylinders fold the outside wings of the toolbar back against the secondary wings, which fold forward against the primary wing section. That section then lifts up and over the mainframe for a road width of 25 ft., 9 in.

Burk mounted four gauge wheels on the outside of the mainframe section and the end of the secondary wing help to control the toolbar’s ride height through the field. The outside wings can be set to float, and down-pressure springs keep them in contact with the field. A shear pin allows the outside wings to break away.

“Before building the 90-ft. bar, I built a 60-ft. bar with the same design and abused it to find out the weak points in the design,” Burk says.

Row units behind the tractor’s triple tires use B33 mole knives, which are more aggressive than the Wiese anhydrous knives mounted on the rest of the row units. Burk runs the knives 6-8 in. deep and uses Sukup 24-in. rolling shields to cover the slot. He uses four orbital manifolds to distribute an-hydrous ammonia.

“It’s been a cheap system for fertilizer that’s very good to the plants and the environment,” Burk says. “In total, I’ve got about $15,000 into the tool. If I’d have bought it new, you’d have to add another zero to that price tag.”

60-Footer From Nebraska
Greg Kreikemeier has an innate ability to visualize farm equipment he needs to be more efficient, then the practical savvy to go ahead and build it.

And that’s just what this West Point, NE, farmer did a year ago when he built a 60-ft.-wide sidedress tool to match the same pattern as his 36-row, 20-in. shop-built planter. (See “Dream Machine,” January issue, pages 30-31,

“Before, we fall-applied anhydrous, but we had farms where we were putting on nitrogen (N) and losing it,” says Kreikemeier, who farms 3,500 acres and custom farms 500 more. “We’re all sidedress now and it gives us more efficient use of N, lowers our inputs and gives us an option to put on other nutrients at that time.”

Kreikemeier combined two old 30-ft. Buffalo cultivators that he had as the base for the tool. The only drawback was that he didn’t like the transport width and how it would limit his access to fields.

“I knew I couldn’t get into some of my fields with a 22-ft.-wide tool – because of narrow bridges – so I started working with a lot of designs in my head,” he says. “That’s when I started looking at my planter and how it front folds. So I took the front-folding aspect and incorporated flip-over wings into my design.”

From the toolbar forward, the tool is 20 ft. long. Each of the 21-ft. wings fold forward for a final road transport width of 18 ft. “I kept it similar to my planter, thinking that trailing and tracking would be the same. But now, I’m going to shorten the tongue by 4-5 ft. I have more turning room than I thought.”

The center section of the sidedressing tool is all Kreikemeier’s design and includes $8,000 worth of steel. Along with cylinders and wheels, the total cost was about $15,000, substantially less than a new $40,000-50,000 unit.

In the rear of the unit he added the Orthman True Tracker system using RTK technology.

“I built the True Tracker on a parallelogram linkage with separate hydraulic controls so I can lower it about two-thirds of the way through my turn. This allows the rig to work in reverse for corners and obstacles,” he explains.

“I added 16-in. gauge wheels to the blades for two reasons: constant depth and to keep the soil from sticking to them,” he adds. “Since the True Tracker is held in the ground with variable oil pressure, it hugs the contour of the ground, which prevents plowing in ditches and stress on the machine.”

With this setup, Kreikemeier’s able to continue to use his 30-in. track tractor because he uses a skip-row pattern. He carries 2,200 gal. of liquid fertilizer on the tractor and at a 30-gal./acre rate can go 73 acres before refilling.

“With sidedressing we’ve reduced our N rates by about 30%. We were at 1 lb. of N/bu. of yield goal. Now we’re at 0.7 lb.,” he says. “I’m a firm believer of putting N in the ground and not on top. There are just too many losses by laying that N on top.”

Although he was surprisingly satisfied with the equipment’s performance last year, this year he’s going to change where he’s placing the N.

“We were applying it ahead of the shovel and letting the sweep move the soil over it,” he says. “We’re now going to apply the N underneath the shank at about 2-3 in. deep. I want that N in the root zone so it’s immediately available.”

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