In The News

Vertical tillage field day

The sheer spectacle of seeing six high-horsepower, four-wheel drive tractors working in one field at the same time made attending last week's vertical tillage field day worth the trip; everything else was a bonus. Held near Lipton, Saskatchewan, and organized by Tri-Star Farm Services (, implements and factory reps from three manufacturers were on hand.

The machines went to work in a variety of field conditions; and according to Kellen Huber, owner of Tri-Star, many of the farmers in attendance were surprised by the versatility of these tillage tools. Tractor operators ran them on pea stubble, an overgrown alfalfa stand and thick pasture sod. Not only did they leave impressive field finishes, but they did it at roughly 10 miles per hour. “Something farmers need to learn to accept is doing cultivation at 10 miles per hour,” says Huber. “It's a new generation (of implement design). It's cutting edge.”

Based on what I saw, that comment is no exaggeration. The new generation of high-speed tillage implements—not all of which actually fall strictly under the vertical tillage definition—are bound to change the way most farmers will do cultivation in the future.

And there seems to be a renewed interest in tillage these days, even long-time, no-till producers are turning back to the idea of churning up soil once in a while, but only on an as-needed basis. “You have to have residue. There has to be a need for it,” comments Huber. And he's right. Unlike decades past, when some farmers would claim every tillage pass on summer fallow added a certain number of bushels to their yield the following year, we've moved beyond that flawed thinking.

Residue buildups on no-till fields and the tough growing seasons we've experienced on the prairie in the last couple of years are driving demand for vertical tillage tools. “(Vertical tillage) deals with the worst kind of conditions possible,” says Todd Botterill, of Botterill Sales in Newton, Manitoba. “They deal with those real problem times, but they also get you through the good years.” And that ability has generated a fast-growing demand for implements here, in the west.

The Lemken Heliodor is a popular choice among Saskatchewan farmers looking for an implement to incorporate field residue.

Doug Achtymichuk, Saskatchewan regional sales manager for Salford, a vertical tillage implement manufacturer, says the company has seen unprecedented growth in demand for its RTS models in that province. And the story is the same in the other western provinces.

As more farmers get a chance to see vertical and other high-speed, minimum tillage tools at work in fields, that growth in demand is likely to continue. If you have a chance to get out to one of these field demonstrations, don't pass it up. These implements deserve a close look.

Watch for a full article on the field demo in the pages of Grainews this fall. And look for a video appearing under the “videos” link on the Grainews homepage within the next couple of weeks.


See the original blog post by Scott Garvey on E-QUIP Blog.