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Will the stubble cultivating in the future be ultra-shallow?

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The challenge:

The TopCut tool carrier for climate-adapted cultivation. The farmer can choose various tools to suit the conditions.
The subject of soil tillage is gaining more and more significance in the purchasing process on farms. The bigger the problems with lack of moisture, chemical resistance and the requirement for reducing the amount of plant protection agents, the more important the correct soil tillage becomes. A particular emphasis is placed on the initial stubble cultivation. This is precisely where the biggest challenge lies. On the one hand, we need to produce the optimum seedbed for stimulating the growth of volunteer cereal and weed seeds. This means that undesirable growth can be encouraged directly after stubble chitting and then be combated mechanically in the second cultivation pass. Ultra-shallow work with optimum germination conditions for the stray cereal and weeds and grasses is of extreme importance, particularly with regard to old rape growth, and in the problem areas of black grass and loose silky bent.

In addition, rotting of organic matter is of enormous significance for field hygiene. Good rotting reduces the transfer of fungal disease and pests. It is therefore important to make sure that shredding or preparation of the organic matter be already undertaken during the initial processing.

On account of the increasing dryness of summers, it is important that evaporation be reduced and ground water conserved. For this reason, in the initial pass, it is important to work only as deep as necessary. 

We intend to have lots of combination options and trailed units to choose from in the future
Instead of the harrow, the tool carrier can, as an alternative, also be equipped with various different rollers for good consolidation

The solution: TopCut tool carrier: for ultra-shallow soil tillage

AMAZONE has started the TopCut development project to accommodate this increasing requirement for ultra-shallow soil tillage. The challenge in this project was the development of the optimum tool combination for ultra-shallow soil tillage. The following aspects were taken into account:

  • Organic material should be shredded to aid the rotting process 
  • Adequate fine soil should be generated for optimum germination conditions 
  • Working should be as shallow as possible – no burying of seeds and reduction in evaporation 
  • Perfect soil adaption of the tools is a prerequisite 
  • Straw post-distribution should be carried out if required 
  • Under dry conditions, good consolidation is required for optimum germination conditions

Soil tillage that has a range of different tools available to the farmer to suit the operational requirements is needed to meet all these requirements in the various different cultures.

The first TopCut 12000-2 tool carrier, having a working width of 12 m and a range of tools thus entered field trials in the summer of 2021.

High output with perfect cutting effect

Various different tools for ultra-shallow processing

Alongside the classic deployment after rape, catch crops or sunflowers, where a combination of a double knife roller and a harrow or roller is used under optimum damp soil conditions, we intend also to develop tools that produce sufficient fine soil under dry conditions, and in cereal stubble, for optimum germination conditions.

The TopCut consists of three subsequent tool segments that can be equipped with various different tools to suit the customer’s needs and requirements. So the toolbar may be a single knife roller, a crushboard or a wavey disc. The double knife roller then operates in the main tool area. As an alternative, however, you can use double wavey discs or a combination of wavey discs and knife rollers. We intend also to include various different spading discs and star discs in the tests. The wavey, spading and star discs cultivate the soil only to a minimum extent, but, on the other hand, they produce fine soil for optimum germination conditions.

Consolidation or harrow

Under dry conditions, it is an advantage if the lightly worked soil is pressed down again. Here we have the option of using the TopCut with a roller, such as the KWM 650 wedge ring roller with matrix profile. In addition, you can also run a single row harrow element in front of the roller. As an alternative to the roller, you can also install a three-row straw harrow as the trailing tool. This provides post-distribution of the straw and also shakes seeds out of the straw, the pods or the ears.

Successful practical experience

TopCut with three-row straw harrow in rape stubble
In 2021/2022, the TopCut 12000-2 ran with various different tool combinations on various different agricultural operations, under the most varied of conditions. This was supplemented by a field trial carried out with the University in Bernburg on rape and wheat stubble, to assess the tool combinations with regard to growth behaviour, shredding effect, working depth and other parameters. 

Results so far demonstrate the benefits of the TopCut tool carrier:

  • Ultra-shallow soil tillage with high proportion of fine soil for perfect germination conditions, even on cereal stubbles 
  • Markedly reduced evaporation as compared with other processes 
  • Optimum consolidation for reliable regermination 
  • Perfect shredding effect in rape, sunflowers, maize stubbles and catch crops 
  • High output with low fuel consumption

Additional machines will be built to enable more impressions and experience to be gathered by using the various tool combinations on various different farms and by touring with the machine under the most varied of conditions.