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Tillage tools rely on precision tech for efficiency

TAGS: Technology
Slideshow: These four machines push the frontier on what you can do with tillage.

The John Deere RWA wheel disk or the Allis-Chalmers 11-foot wheel disk arriving on your grandpa’s farm was a big deal. When all they used before were pull-type disks without wheels, a wheel disk was a huge step forward. The precision tillage adjustment that is here now from several companies may be the greatest step forward in tillage since wheels were first put on a disk.

What’s common to these new precision tillage tools are on-the-go adjustments of various components and readouts on a digital screen in the cab. There are other machines where you can adjust gang angle, depth or other settings from the cab, but that don’t yet display them in one neat bundle digitally.

Some precision tillage tools were introduced at the Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa, in August. More were highlighted at the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Ky., in February.

Change won’t stop at digital readouts and in-cab control of four or five functions of the tillage tool. Case IH is already working with Ohio State University to map tillage passes and determine if and when you should adjust tillage based on soil type and other factors as conditions change on a single pass.

Precision tillage tools

Here is a look at four tools either on the market or headed to farms soon. It’s not an all-inclusive list.

Case IH Ecolo-Tiger 875 Disk Ripper with AFS Soil Command. Chris Lursen, tillage marketing manager with Case IH, says this tool was designed for site-specific tillage. He believes that is where tillage is going in the future. Five adjustments can be made on the go in the cab. They include fore and aft adjustment of gangs, disk gang depth, shank depth, leveler depth and crumbler pressure.

Lursen and Case IH have worked with OSU to test the concept of mapping these changes as they occur across the field.

“We can make maps, but more importantly, we can do a better job of tillage across the entire field and do it more efficiently,” says Andy Klopfenstein, an OSU ag engineer who has worked on the project. “We’re moving toward variable-rate tillage instead of farming for the average.”

Great Plains Implement Control for Turbo-Max. Coming for 2019 is Implement Control, which gives you the ability to make and monitor adjustments from the cab on the Great Plains Turbo-Max tillage machine. There are adjustments for fore and aft setting of the machine, gang angle, down pressure on the unit, operating depth and rear reel position. All these factors display on an easy-to-operate screen in the cab.

In fact, Great Plains spokespeople say another important feature is that Implement Control is ISO-compatible. It should work on nearly any screen in your cab, eliminating the need for another monitor.

Implement Control will be available on three-section 18- to 35-foot models and five-section 40- and 48-foot models. Learn more at

John Deere VIT tool. Instead of calling it variable-rate tillage, John Deere coined the term variable-intensity tillage for its 2660VT tillage implement. Four different adjustments can be made on the machine, and they can all be made from the cab on a display screen that accompanies the tool.

The operator can adjust the functions independently of each other if he or she chooses. Or you can determine combinations of settings that work best in various parts of the field and enter them as preset options. Then by just touching one button, you can trigger a series of adjustments at one time. Learn more at 

Sunflower Till Control. Agco introduced Till Control late in 2018 for three different tillage implements in the company’s line. The Till Control system is available on the SF6830 high-speed rotary finisher, the SF1436 Series disk harrows and the SF6631 Series vertical-tillage tools. Till Control includes an ISO-compatible display screen in the cab. Possible adjustments and parameters displayed depend upon the machine.

Tom Draper, Agco’s marketing manager for seeding and tillage for the Sunflower and White brands, notes that for the SF6631, Till Control enables farmers to monitor and adjust the fore and aft frame, as well as the hydraulic lift system. Besides monitoring tillage depth, it ensures that slave cylinders on the wings stay in phase with the center master lift cylinders. Restoring the level or rephasing the cylinders can be accomplished by fully raising the implement out of the ground, he explains. Learn more at  

See photos of these tools in the accompanying slideshow.

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