Two inventions ease the problems of implement depth and residue control.

Inventors who wanted to solve tillage problems used their ingenuity to create two new tillage tools. The Automatic Depth Control Explorer for maintaining tillage depth is available for purchase now, and the Variable Tillage Tool will be on the market in the next year.

Automatic Depth Control Explorer. Entrepreneur Andy Buchl wanted to find a way to maintain a consistent depth while field tilling. He devised a small microprocessor mounted in a tractor cab to receive messages from three sensing wheels positioned on the implement. The microprocessor controls a leveling hydraulic valve installed in-line between the tractor's hydraulics and the implement's hydraulics. The hydraulic valve adjusts the implement's depth. Hydraulic corrections are graphed on an LED control console in the cab so the operator can see what is happening.

A grower determines the depth needed by measuring the height of the implement frame above the ground and adding it to the depth of penetration needed in the soil. He then programs this depth into the device's console. When operating, the device will maintain that depth until the joystick is moved. The joystick has the programmable settings of working depth, shallow, minimum depth and maximum depth. The joystick also raises the implement.

"This is a breakthrough in depth control dealing with pull-type ag equipment," Buchl says. "It is not unusual for farmers to tell us that soybeans may go in anywhere from 3/4 to 2_1/2 in." He says that field tests have found 4-in. variations in how deep chemicals were located when spread on the field and incorporated by a field cultivator.

The Explorer may be mounted on a cultivator, disk, air seeder, soil finisher and chemical or manure applicator.

The system retails for $6,450. For more information, contact Automatic Depth Control, Dept. FIN, 3064 Valley Dr., Sioux City, IA 51104, 712/233-1341.

Variable Tillage Tool. Grower William Flenker and his two sons, Kim and Kevin, invented the Variable Tillage Tool to solve the problem of trying to adjust tillage on the go according to the residue required.

The Flenkers encountered the problem in fields with both hills and flat areas on their Long Grove, IA, farm. In some spots, they had to leave residue, but on flat areas in the same field, they did not need the residue.

Their solution is a new tool designed with a patented adjustable disc gang. It fits on the front of a tillage tool or ridge planter.

Growers can adjust the cutting angle of the discs from 0 to 38 degrees while driving through the field. Hydraulic cylinders adjust the discs. The more angled the discs, the more the soil and residue mix. Flenker says the mixing action looks like a tornado between the discs.

"With other implements, the discs always start at one place and throw the soil out," Flenker says. "These throw it into each other so the soil never moves more than 10 in. away from its original spot."

The blended soil and residue, left in ridges on the field, resemble a compost. The residue deteriorates quickly and provides a fertile seedbed for planting in the spring. Flenker says that, as a result, they are seeing increased yields in areas on their farm where the tool is used.

The Variable Tillage Tool is 18 ft. wide and weighs only 6,000 lbs., compared with the 14,000-lb. weight of conventional disks.

The Flenkers are negotiating with manufacturers to sell the implement to other growers. They anticipate that the cost will be about $20,000. For more information, contact Flenker Enterprises Inc., Dept. FIN, 29476 240th Ave., Long Grove, IA 52756, 319/225-3333.