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A harrowing experience at 10 m.p.h.
BRANDON — It’s late June, past the crop insurance deadline. Eight thousand soggy acres still need to be seeded to canola. Tractors move but drills and carts sink.
That’s the situation Morris Feduk of Melville, Sask., faced 11 months ago. Always one to try pulling a magic rabbit out of his hat, Feduk floated on a blend of fertilizer plus five pounds per acre of canola seed.
His crew hooked the tractors up to Feduk’s four Lemken Heliodor disc harrows and began incorporating seed and fertilizer at speeds in the range of nine m.p.h.
“It was June 20, so what was I supposed to do?” Feduk said.
“At that point, I’m gambling with my own money only. There’s nothing to fall back on if it fails.”
Are five lb. of seed really enough in those conditions? And what about running disc harrows at those speeds?
“They tell us the regular rate of five pounds allows for lots of mortality. I’d say five lb. is plenty when you’re harrowing in like this. We weren’t short on plant populations by any means,” he said.
“Sometimes when it’s too wet, the canola gets over-packed, but that wasn’t the case at all, even at the higher speeds with those harrows. You have to remember the seeds don’t go down as deep as what you’re working. They go down about half that depth. We run these harrows shallow, so it worked out about right. Just so the seed gets covered in moist soil.”
Lemken disc harrows have 19 packer options, said Lemken dealer Kellen Huber of Tri-Star Farm Services, but fewer than six are applicable to prairie conditions.
One of the Heliodors on Feduk’s farm had the large single roller and the other three had the double basket option. Feduk said the double basket packers did the best job of incorporating canola seed.
“The yields were nothing fantastic,” Feduk said of last year’s seeding.
“But when you don’t start seeding until June 20, what can you expect. The stuff was reasonable, around 30 bushels per acre. And nothing under 20. We have a few fields right now looking pretty wet. I’ll save them until last. If we have to blow it on and harrow it in again, well, that’s what we’ll do. We know it works.”
Huber said Lemken has introduced two high-speed disc harrows to Western Canada.
The Heliodor units used by Feduk are intended for light surface disturbance. They are light duty machines with 18 inch notched discs on five inch centres and work at a maximum depth of only three inches. Huber said it’s ideal for incorporating broadcast canola at three-quarters of an inch while running at the high ground speed of nine to 10.5 m.p.h.
Lemken uses notched discs because its research has shown that round discs eventually get flat spots or become egg shaped and stop turning. A notched disc keeps turning despite the wear pattern.
The other Lemken disc harrow is the Rubin, designed for heavy work. Huber said it has 24 inch notched blades on five inch centres, operates at a depth of six inches and has a recommended ground speed of 9.5 m.p.h.
Huber said the Rubin is not a vertical tillage machine.
“Vertical tillage is a bastardized name, which a lot of people jumped on thinking it just had to do with a disc running up and down. But really, vertical tillage refers to the ability to work across the entire width of the tool at about a 1.5 inch depth. So the Rubin is not vertical tillage. The Rubin is meant to cut hard soils, weedy areas, plow down in corn and beans, breaking up sod, B.t. corn stalks and root balls.”
He said the Rubin won’t destroy hybrid corn root balls, but the concave notched discs do a good job of ripping them out of the ground and cutting and shredding them. The discs are six millimetres wide and each disc is independently mounted with spring down pressure.
“As for corn stalks that’ve been grazed, it chews them up into lengths seven or eight inches and leaves them on the surface to decompose.”
Long maintenance intervals for the Rubin and Heliodor are possible because of the arrangement of double row axial angular ball bearings. The bearings require no regular maintenance or lubrication because of the internal six-fold labyrinth rubber seal ring.
The unique geometry of the Lemken bearing design puts the forces into the centre of the bearing, which is the strongest point.
For more information, contact Huber at 306-586-1603 or visit www.tristarfarms.com.