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.