The virtues of vertical tillage continue to interest farmers looking for ways to size residues and prep a seedbed for best performance while preserving the value of that residue on crop fields. For 2014 the Farm Industry News team caught a look at three different new machines and some interesting enhancements for this market.

AGCO Sunflower 6631

For 2014, AGCO is rolling out seven new models to the 6631 Series vertical tillage line offering true cutting widths now from 20-ft., 5-in., to 37-ft., 5-in. The company promotes its Saber Blade disk blades and a staggered offset disk gang design mounted at an 18-degree angle on both the front and rear gangs, which is designed to slice through heavy Bt corn residues. The Saber blades feature a sawthoth edge that has 25 flutes extending the full cutting depth of the blade, which is designed to stay sharp.

The 6631 series feature a three-section design with 22 degrees of wing flex - 10 degrees up and 12 degrees down - to hug uneven fields and a five-section-patented spilt-wing design on the larger 6631-35 and 6631-40 models. And the frames ride on walking tandem axles that float over uneven surfaces. An A-frame dongue design provides two-position drawbar adjustment to match tractor drawbar height for level operation.

There are three finishing reel options including an 11-in. or 14--inc. flat-bar reel or a 14-in. chevron reel.

The company also showed off an interesting prototype during the National Farm Machinery Show with electronic monitoring of the vertical tillage rig. Larry Kuster, AGCO, explained that a limited number of units would be in the field for testing in 2014. The ISOBUS compatible electronic control measures the length of the cylinder and helps level the machine during operation. The new system not only provides accurate depth monitoring but also level operation from front to back and across the gang.

"The user will know if a wing hasn't set properly. That's hard to see during operation but really shows up at planting," he says. "This is a first-generation system, and there are other opportunities for the future." Adding more sensors to the rig may offer users added monitoring control potential as the system evolves.

The 24-ft. rig with hydraulic leveling and an 11-in. reel is $61,000. You can learn more about the new 6631 series by visiting sunflowermfg.com.

Earthmaster 3000

EarthMaster launched a new vertical tillage tool at the show for the first time this year. The EarthMaster 3000 is designed to handle increased acres over previous models. The tool can be used for both spring seedbed prep and fall residue management. The SoilRazor disc blades with a saw-tooth profile do not require a sharpener, as they sharpen themselves in the field over time.

At 20 in., the company says efficiency of the blades is improved because less weight is required to get the blades in the ground. A larger, 17 in. rolling basket easily pushes soil in and out on the back end of the tool. Models available are 25 ft., 31 ft. and 34 ft. Disc gang angle is at 18 degrees and working depth is 1.5-3 in. on all models. For more information, visit earthmastertillage.com.

Case IH True-Tandem 335VT

Case IH is coming out with a model upgrade that will replace the True-Tandem 330 Vertical Tillage it launched in 2007.

On the new model, called the True-Tandem 335 VT, the rolling rear basket now comes with an active down pressure system that lets you adjust downpressure on the fly when soil conditions change. “On the previous model, we used a mechanical basket with springs, which you’d have to physically raise or lower,” says Tim Nix, Case IH tillage marketing manager. “Now, with hydraulics, you can raise the basket if running in a wet corner of a field, or you can increase or decrease the pressure when the soil gets harder or softer to provide the leveling that you need.”

Another major improvement was made to the blades, now 30% stronger. “Farmers wanted stronger blades that wouldn’t break when hitting rocks,” Nix says. “The new VT wave blades are made from metal quarried from iron ore mines, which make them stronger, more ductile and more resistant to breakage.”

Other improvements include the upgrade to LED lights, a lengthened frame for better residue flow, and a new powder coat paint finish that provides 400 percent more resistance to scratching and fading, Case IH says.

The 335 will be available in 22-, 25-, 28-, 31- and 34-foot working widths when it hits the market in 2015.

Suggested list price: $50,200 to $88,600. Contact caseih.com.