Dear Jim, My name is Morris Luther & I am a row crop farmer from western Ky.. I farm about 1200 acres of white corn and soybeans. Between 300 and 400 acres of the soybeans are following wheat. My dad started no tilling in the late 70s and that has been my primary practice since then. I work (disk & roll) the wheat ground prior to sowing it & that is the only time it is worked unless i track it in the fall. I do have about 400 acres in river bottom(not HEL) that usually gets worked in spring to dry it enough to plant. I have always wanted a tool that would break up density layers in the soil but wanted to leave the trash on the surface (for the HEL ground). A few weeks ago I went up in Illinois to look at a tractor at a case Ih dealership & saw a used smart till on their lot. It had a phillips style harrow on the back & it was hyd. retractable. I looked it over pretty well & it got my intrest because I thought it might work well for me. Since then I have been looking on internet trying to learn about it & your name keeps coming up. I think I would like a 30' model but not sure if I can pull it with my 8400 JD. Saw a smart till 2200 on fastline but it folds differently than the others & is yellow. Also read that smart till has sold to someone in Ca. The 2200 I saw has a double rolling basket on back & I think that would be the best harrow for what i want to do.I would appreciate any advice you might have regarding what works or doesn't work & parts availability on different machines
Post by Jim Martindale on Sept 5, 2015 3:37:23 GMT
Hi Morris, Thanks for writing. I am probably “popular” in the subject matter because I’ve been around so long and can’t be silenced easily about the great things that I see happen to soil and plants as a result of its faithful use.
The yellow 2200 was the first attempt at putting my patented tine together with Phillips harrows. The machine has bearing issues. in order to get the field finish of Curse Buster it takes two passes of any of these single rank machines.
All of these machines will address the density layer much better than any disk but a plowing disk which I know you don’t want to do.
The blue version of Smart Till has had serious bearing issues on older versions. Be careful. Replacement tines are readily available for all. Unfortunately none come with extra skin to replace that lost in changing them.
The 8400 is much better suited to 20 feet of Curse Buster. –you’ll like the job better at 7.5 than at 5.
I am not a fan of rolling baskets except behind field cultivators. Baskets behind the tines make for a wet surface that does not want to dry out. More on this in the forums section of www.soilcursebuster.com. We have made the harrows so easily adjustable and reversible they have become more important than I had ever envisioned.
The CB machine’s additional fracturing ability has truly set it apart from all the rest. I have told men for a long time it takes 3 years to see the results. Don’t have to anymore.
Running in your wheat in the early spring and then following the bean planter with another pass is a great sequence to capture the rainfall and make the most of the beans. Probably find your need for weed control chemicals greatly reduced too.
you might to visit new ag talk for more conversations. Let me know if and when price and availability are of interest.
Post by Morris Luther on Sept 7, 2015 14:07:58 GMT
Jim, Thanks for the response. What actually got me started looking at these machines is a long time friend who bought an Aerway 30 ft single tine(row) several years back. He's probably owned it for 8-10 years and I've noticed over the years that he almost never hooks to his disk or field cultivator since getting the Aerway. He pulls a J&M rolling harrow behind it & it leaves the ground in really nice looking condition for planting.Also almost always gets nice even stand of whatever he is planting. I can be a slow learner but He & his brother have been farming longer than i have (they are older) & they have always done a very good job of it & it shows.I began looking at Aerways on the internet & that is when I discovered some of your videos on you tube. It makes sense to me that 3 tines would engage the ground more efficiently than 4 just by watching the smart till run on the video.That is when I began looking more at the smart till than the aerway. Also was mention of a gen till & I have looked at a few of them as well.It seems genesis was sold to smart till so not really chasing that rabbit now.Have been to cursebuster website & there are alot of things said on there that make sense to me.My friends aerway to my knowledge is the only tool of that kind that is being used in my area.The smart till I saw in Illinois was a 2011 model. it had the phillips on the back. Can all of the angle be taken out of the phillips & ran straight? All the videos I have seen have the phillips running agressively which would be good for me in the riverbottom but would disturb trash way too much for my hill ground. I have already had one run in with the NRCS about the amount of trash left on surface after planting & am not looking for another one.
Post by Jim Martindale on Sept 7, 2015 14:13:47 GMT
If your neighbor has figured out how to run his aerway at zero offset and only when it is dry enough to not pack and smear or is running the Smart-Till or Gen Till tine then he could be looking ok.
I would go next door with my shovel and ask if you could take a look together at his corn roots. Also look at their machine and take some pictures of the tines and how much concrete or iron they carry.
The J&M will do a lot to make the top of the seedbed look and plant well. A deeper look will reveal deeper truth about what is really happening. With the number of years they have invested you should also find a lot of evidence of excellent aggregation development.
I'm not aware of the sale of Gen Till to Smart-Till. Smart-Till has the license to use the tine of mine which received its patent in 2005. Gen Till uses the same tine by copying it since 2003. Perhaps this is the basis for the information concerning the sale. Don't know.
Moving on, the Smart-Till you looked at may have been equipped with the triple tooled version of harrows which moves a lot of residue and pulls root systems way more than the original Phillips version which we use. The Gen till uses rods welded onto a rigid pipe and has its own set of different issues associated with it.
The Smart-Till is adjustable to a very slight angle and will do very little to level the soil. The tine if it is set at much more than 2.5 degrees leaves the surface pretty rough and uneven featuring a depression which is not at all planter friendly. This is the primary reason that we started investigation of a different tine geometry over five years ago and applied it to the tandem frame design. The Eagle tine can create the same problem but it is much more difficult to do so.
The biggest difference is that with the tandem system much smaller angles of offset are required to obtain adequate fracturing to get plenty of harrow penetration for a smooth finish. Using the angle adjustments and the flexible original Phillips version we can create 2" of uniform seedbed and still leave root systems in the ground.
We have actual NRCS test data from Wisconsin showing that the reduction of 2% with the tines alone was cut to half of that when the harrow was added to the process. If you run in the same direction as the corn rows then the stalk length is minimally impacted. If you cross the rows then length is significantly reduced to less than a foot in length in a single pass.
This is a little deceptive in terms of how problematic the shorter residue might become. Generally the base of a corn stalk or bean stalk will extend above the soil surface by up to 4 inches depending on the health of the plant when tillage is performed preferably in the fall. This condition creates a snow fence effect which prevents wind erosion and movement of residue. In the case of water movement of residue by floating it, this is largely addressed by the rapid infiltration and percolation of water which is facilitated by the tine tillage action.
We have estimated an increase in total soil fracturing or density reduction approaching 50% using the tandem frame CurseBuster compared to the single rank machines. This has made, as one would expect, a big difference in how effectively soils breathe. This is synonymous with how fast soils can take in water. We have watched neighbors fields dump massive amounts of water onto our client fields and seen the soil movement that was apparent at the property line stop downslope in a relatively short distance. The best medicine in this situation is to go fix the neighbors problem with your tool.
The other thing which helps in the erosion situation that applies to folks that have raining then freezing temperatures is that if the water exits the top half of the plow layer quickly enough then no ice is formed which is impervious to additional water. I've seen this be a huge source of erosion in the regions from the central part of the US to northern Indiana. The key to preventing erosion is keeping all root systems where they grew and breaking soil around then to produce favorable conditions for water and air exchange.