Tillage For Sale

Tillage is one of the oldest and most basic forms of agricultural preparation. It refers to the working of the soil by various mechanical means. These procedures, of course, were initially carried out by hand. They included simple methods such as digging, turning over the soil and generally agitating the earth.

Hand tools include shovels, picks, hoes and rakes. Later implements were drawn by draft animals. Tillage work can include ploughing, harrowing and rototilling. Many descriptions of tillage divide the activity into primary or secondary tillage. Primary tillage essentially refers to deeper and more basic tillage operations, such as ploughing, which produce a roughly finished surface.

Secondary tillage refers to shallower operations which work this rough surface to produce a finer tilth. There is no absolute division between the two, however, and operations such as rototilling and harrowing may well fall between the two or combine elements of both operations.

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Further definitions of tillage refer to the amount of crop residue left in the field. Reduced tillage leaves between 15% and 30% of crop in the soil, whereas intensive tillage allows less than 15% to remain. Conservation-grade tillage leaves upwards of 30% of residue on the surface of the soil. Proper tillage is known to have a number of positive effects which enhance soil productivity. It loosens up the top soil and aerates it, making it better for planting. It also mixes the organic matter and harvest residue into the soil to improve nutrient distribution. In damp climates, like those in much of the UK, it helps to dry the soil a little and improve planting conditions. Autumn tilling also allows the soil to be further broken up by winter frosts. The effects are not all positive, however, and inappropriate or excessive tilling can over-dry soil, cause nutrient loss, increase run-off of water and chemicals and reduce organic matter and organisms in the soil.

The range of tillage equipment now available is wide and varied, with most of the big suppliers having extensive offerings. The machinery includes both offset and tandem harrows. These can slice deeply into tough soils to distribute residues and level the surfaces of irrigated fields. Disk and inline rippers manage crop residue and condition the seedbed. They reduce compaction and achieve healthier soils and better root development. Vertical tillage implements can be good for spring and autumn tillage, with blades to move soil both vertically and horizontally.

Seedbed preparation comes by way of plant such as field cultivators and seedbed conditioners. A field cultivator will permit earlier planting and lead to faster germination for maximum yields. A seedbed conditioner, meanwhile, will dismantle clods and take off root crowns to create a smoother top soil after primary tillage has been completed. A strip-till attachment can manage crop residue and give consistent fertiliser depth.

Choosing tillage equipment has much in common with other farm plant in that it concerns the size of your operation and compatibility with your existing equipment — in this case, primarily the tractor that will trail the implements. This type of equipment, however, is far more closely associated with the type of soil you have on your land, your preferred tillage regime and the crops you wish to grow. The leading manufacturers offer a vast range of equipment which will doubtless help you achieve exactly the soil conditions you are looking for on your farm. Tillage equipment is generally hard-wearing, easily repaired and capable of giving many years of good service.

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