Case IH’s announcement yesterday of its new True-Tandem 345 seed bed disk harrows points to where tillage is headed in this country. The option, called “active hydraulic down pressure.”
The rolling basket at the rear of the new disk harrow can be ordered with “active hydraulic down pressure” for sizing clods and soil conditioning. With this option, you can increase or decrease the down pressure depending on how rough the ground is, without your having to leave your tractor cab. It is all done hydraulically rather than the mechanical way of adjusting the springs.
Tailoring tillage on-the-go according to where you are in the field is the concept behind site-specific tillage, the industry’s next application of precision farming. Although these systems vary in execution, the idea is the same—using hydraulics (or, in some cases, electronics) to raise and lower sections of an implement, in this case, a rolling basket. John Deere was one of the first to offer a version of the technology, which it called AccuDepth. Salford showed a tillage implement prototype last year that used hydraulics to automatically adjust depth of the actual shanks. Agco showed similar technology this year on its Sunflower 6631 vertical tillage line, except its system uses electronics to monitor and control the down pressure.
Case IH’s True-Tandem 345 seedbed disk harrow is now one of the latest examples of the automated adjustment of blades.
The same down-pressure technology also is being incorporated on planters. Dawn, for example, will be introducing a system this fall that will automatically adjust planting depth based on ground hardness, which the unit senses on the go. We wrote about Dawn’s system in May, as part of our technologies changing ag series.
Technically, what will make tillage site-specific a reality is when you can raise and lower the implement or sections thereof without your having to make any adjustment as you drive. Down-pressure systems of the future will automatically take readings from sensors or prescription maps and make the necessary adjustments.
None of the farm equipment companies I’ve talked so far will use the term “site-specific” to describe their current tillage offerings. But they admit it’s on their radar.