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One-pass Tillage

Labor. Time. Fuel.

Those are three things Tim Jamerson saves by running a new plow after harvest on his Hornersville, MO, farm. Jamerson recently completed his first year of running the One Pass TerraTill plow in his corn-soybean-cotton rotation. “I really like it,” says Jamerson, who practices 100% conservation tillage. “After corn harvest, we ran the plow behind the combine and had the ground completely prepared for planting in the spring. We also planted a wheat cover crop in the middles with a Gandy air seeder attached to the one-pass plow. This helps prevent excessive erosion. We saved two to three trips with this new equipment.”

The One Pass TerraTill is manufactured by Bigham Brothers in Lubbock, TX. It is available in four- and six-row units. It is designed to cut through heavy residue, till the row, undercut the stalks, press them into the row and bed up over the stalks in one pass.

Jamerson, who farms with his son Aaron in the Missouri boot-heel area, farms about 2,800 acres, mostly irrigated. He saw 65-bu. soybeans and 171-bu. corn in 2008.

He thinks the new plow will facilitate a more efficient rotation system all the way around. The implement uses the same concept of subsoil deep tillage he has used for more than a decade to help break up the hardpan on sandy loam and clay soil. It has an angle-leg that’s 36 in. long and is bent about a foot from the bottom. The angle-leg lifts the dirt to prevent major fracturing and produces a more mellow soil, Jamerson says.

“We run the leg about 14 in. deep to bust the hardpan,” he says. “That keeps our hardpan at a manageable level on ground that has to be ‘ripped’ about every other year.”

Joe Trent, marketing manager for Bigham Brothers, says the unit is available for 38- and 40-in. rows. “The toolbar is available as specified and has a hitch assembly,” Trent says. “It features gauge wheels, parking stands, mounting clamps, residue-cutting coulters, stalk guide hoods, rear pressing rollers and a bedding shovel package with a no-twist foot. The toolbar frames are made specifically for the one-pass plow because they need more clearance front to back.”

Jamerson requires a system that cuts through residue. This one does. It features spring-loaded swivel front coulters with 1,200 lbs. of residue-slicing pressure. Its 20-in. blade is mounted to a heavy narrow profile hub.

The angle-legs are situated behind coulters to handle the hardpan. The deep tillage prepares a loose subsoil environment for better root development. Legs are protected by chromium carbide shins. “I had to replace the ‘ripper points’ about halfway through the tillage [after about 1,200 acres],” Jamerson says. “There was little time wasted.”

Rear bedding tools
The system features high-wing busters that throw peaked beds over stalks. “The no-twist foot keeps the buster stable on the shank,” Trent says. In addition, the bedding shank is heat treated for strength.

A stalk hood guides the stalk row to a rear 12¾-in.-dia. pressing roller. Scrapers are included with the roller package.

A rear coulter blade cuts residue in front of the high-wing buster to eliminate plugging. “There are 13 coulter blades on a six-row machine for exceptional trash cutting and stalk management,” Trent says.

A rubber torsion spring protects the jack and roller but maintains maximum pressure to lay the stalk row down. A telescoping mount jack provides easy height adjustment for each row.

Jamerson runs a six-row unit pulled by a 250-hp John Deere 8430 tractor. “We can steadily pull the plow at 4.7 to 5 mph,” he says.

With two to three trips through the field saved between harvest and planting, there is easily a $10 to $15/acre savings, or $5 or more per trip saved. Figure in labor savings and savings of valuable time, and efficiency is enhanced even more, Jamerson says.

The four-row unit is 14 ft. 9 in. wide and weighs about 4,600 lbs. The six-row unit is 21 ft. wide and weighs about 7,300 lbs. Units are priced at about $22,250 for the four-row system and $30,995 for the six-row unit.

Is subsoiling for everyone?
Not necessarily, says Randall Reeder, agricultural engineer at Ohio State University, especially on a flat-bed system. Early subsoiling research at OSU indicated that subsoiling enhanced yields substantially on minimum-tilled land that had been heavily compacted. But since 2002, tests on 100% no-till corn and soybeans on flat beds showed better production without subsoiling, Reeder says.

“The compaction plots were switched to no-till with flat beds after the fall 2002 compaction,” he says. “In the seasons since then, the 20-ton plot soybean yields averaged about 10% less with subsoiling than continuous no-till, and corn yields averaged 8% less.

“For two crop years, we delayed one subsoiling treatment until late January, compared to the usual November date. For both corn and soybeans, there was no effect on yield the following season.”

Reeder advises growers to examine the type of program that is best suited for their soil and tillage systems.

Jamerson says he plans to run the one-pass unit every year. “We used the angle-leg systems for many years [since the early 1990s] and have had good success with them,” he says. “The one-pass unit is providing the same advantages, with the added benefit of more saved trips.”

Learn more about the One-Pass TerraTill at

More one-pass systems
The KBH One Trip Plow from KBH Corporation in Clarksdale, MS, can be run directly behind a combine or other harvester. It eliminates the need for a shredder or rotary cutter, says sales representative Tim Tenhet.

“The front plow shear destroys the stalk’s root system while plowing an 18-in. bed at depths from 8 to 13 in.,” Tenhet says. “The cylinder’s mulching blades incorporate and condition the residue into the bottom of the bed, and the middle busters re-bed your field on the same rows.”

One difference is that it does not have a deep tillage shank for ripping.

For more information, visit

A one-pass spring tillage plow is the TL6200 Landsman from Krause Corporation, Hutchinson, KS. Front-mounted disc gangs provide residue management, says Keith Whitaker, vice president of sales and marketing. For hard-to-penetrate, heavy soils, or standing stubble, the plow features the XT 270 shank with a 270-lb. point load and 26-in. underframe clearance.

Its tine harrow system provides agronomic and residue-handling performance with time-saving features to increase productivity. Krause says that the Landsman’s conditioner system increases yield potential through better seedbed condition and increases productivity through nonstop farming.

For more information, visit

Other variations of the minimum pass systems are available from Kelly Manufacturing Company, Tipton, GA (

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