Is Universal Tillage Right for You?Five things to consider before purchasing your next tillage tool
Universal Tillage tools combine the benefits of vertical, high speed, primary, and secondary tillage into one versatile machine that you can use year-round. An evolution from traditional vertical tillage tools, Universal Tillage exceeds the capabilities of vertical tillage tools by allowing more flexibility. Whether you need aggressive fall tillage or seedbed finishing before planting, a Universal Tillage machine provides the flexibility to help you achieve your seedbed goals.
How do you know if Universal Tillage is right for you? Consider these five questions:
1. What are your seedbed goals?
Do you want to move more dirt? Pin more residue down in the fall? Eradicate weeds? Reduce tillage?
Universal Tillage practices might be helpful if you find yourself compromising your seedbed goals due to the limitations of your current tillage tools. Why would you till your soybean stubble with the same settings as corn stubble? Different crops require different tillage applications to achieve your seedbed goals. Universal Tillage tools have more adjustments than traditional tillage tools. They have a greater range of depth adjustment and disk gang angles for tailored residue management and more seasonal flexibility. This means, if you want to run deeper and move more dirt in the fall and do a shallower pass in the spring to prep for the planter, you can do that with the same machine.
For conventional tillage practices, look for a tool with disks adjustable up to 12º and a depth up to 6”. This will move the most dirt while also keeping the seedbed level and firm.
Minimal tillage and even no-till practices occasionally require some light tillage. For these needs, Universal Tillage tools should have a shallower disk angle and run shallower; around 2” deep.
2. What are your field conditions?
If you have sticky soil or a lot of rocks, consider a Universal Tillage tool with independently mounted disk blades. Rubber torsion systems are common in high-speed disks but struggle to maintain consistent down pressure. Look for tools that protect against disk blade breakage and allow more clearance for sticky soils and residue while maintaining constant down pressure. This will ensure a more even seedbed.
Tougher weed conditions call for an angle-adjustable treader. Treaders rip weeds out by the root and pin them to the soil and size clods effectively. Adjustable hydraulic pressure allows you to change the down pressure and lift the tool out of the ground. Look for treaders that are adjustable from 0º-15º which will help you achieve any spring, summer or fall seedbed goals.
3. How do you want to manage your residue?
If you need to chop and size residue efficiently, look for tillage tools equipped with a chopping reel behind the front set of disks or disk gangs. The reel will produce a crisscross cut pattern which forms a 7” x 7” grid for improved coverage compared to tools without a chopping reel. When combined with serrated disk blades, you can maximize residue sizing and be more efficient with each pass.
Treaders will also give you the option of aggressively incorporating and pinning residue to the soil if that’s what you’re looking for. For a less aggressive approach, they can easily be lifted out of the ground.
4. What’s your desired field finish?
The finish your tillage equipment leaves in your field can tremendously impact your overall planting and yield results. Tools like high-speed compact disks can leave the seedbed surface looking smooth, but when you start digging, you might reveal an uneven seedbed. In the age of high-speed planters, a smooth seedbed is key to ensuring even plant emergence. Universal Tillage tools ensure a smooth seedbed and complement your high-speed planter.
Universal Tillage can be customized with different finishing configurations that work for your seedbed goals. Consider options like spike tooth harrows, treaders and rolling baskets to achieve your desired field finish.
5. How are you managing cover crops?
Whether you opt for traditional broadcast or solid-seeding applicators, Universal Tillage tools prep the seedbed, incorporate cover crop seed, and firm the soil in one pass. In the spring, one additional pass with the tool can knock down the cover crop, eradicate weeds, and ready the seedbed for planting.
Your tillage tools need to work harder. Talk with your dealer to find a multi-purpose tool that lets you get the most done in a single pass. There are several types of Universal Tillage tools available, each designed for your evolving tillage needs. They offer a unique, flexible, cost-effective solution for growers worldwide. So, is Universal Tillage right for you?