pre-rippers and discs get the job done.

The use of a combination of a pre-ripper and discs is delivering a real break-through in cultivation and seed-bed preparation. This comes when land management is increasingly centred on fast-turnaround, and reducing effort, while achieving maximum yields.

At the same time, the implement combination is also treading that fine line between breaking-up the pan, allowing plant’s young roots to access nutrients and moisture, and preserving the vulnerable soil structure. That latter might not be important this season, but it will definitely be in the seasons to come.

Todd Murray from FarmChief has sold his company’s highly-engineered, European-made (“with Kiwi DNA”) Express Discs and rippers throughout the country, and has heard first-hand the feedback from farmers and contractors.

Todd says often people have come to him with a soil pan issue, looking for a solution.

“There’s no doubt that the discs and pre-rippers rippers have a place out there and that people are seeing their value. Time is short and getting a crop back into the ground, especially with a high value crop, is vital.

“They’re unbeatable with maize, which has deep roots.”

Todd says climate can also mean there’s often only a small window of opportunity for cultivation, meaning speed is an imperative.

4500 Express speed Dics paired with pre-ripper

Less effort, faster turnaround

The two, implements combined also replace, in some cases the need for three separate implements and travel along at around 16km/hr, which cuts through the work. The 3 metre trailed discs, with ripper, require only a relatively modest 130hp tractor, so are within the grasp of most. Although there’re also the option of 4.5 metres and 6 metres.

Typical FarmChief disc and ripper owners are David and Sally Mavor, who along with business partners John and Fionna McCarthy, farm a property at Lismore, near Ashburton in Mid Canterbury.

The 475 hectare block includes a 250 hectares dairy block, running 900 cows, with the remainder used for cropping and support. The property is mixture of Templeton silt loam, and some lighter soils.

David’s Express 3000 Speed Discs, trailed with ripper, are used for working-in crop after winter grazing. He says the advantage of the implement is that it deep rips the soil while working the top soil at the same time. “Two or three passes and it’s ready for drilling into spring cereals.”

“Turn-around is everything because time is important. This is helping us achieve that. The one cultivator, effectively does two jobs.

“We’ve cultivated 100 hectares with it, in one season, and it’s performed as we expected.

“We’re really happy with it.”

Todd Murray says benefits from deep ripping generally last for at least three years, depending on soil type and crop rotation. In his experience, farmers and contractors also maximise the flexibility of the implement – using just the ripper, the speed discs alone, or the two combined.

He says the implement is most often used where there has been significant soil compaction, either after stock on paddocks or heavy machinery, so are predominantly used in late winter and early spring.

“The shattering effects of the rippers allow the roots to hold on better in the dry.”

Increasing awareness of the impact that the number of passes in cultivation play in impacting the soil structure, as well and fuel and labour costs, means appreciation of the discs and ripper combination is increasing.

Most owners, Todd says, are contractors and dairy farmers or dairy grazers.

“ When used on soils that have a clay pan, the implements penetrate it, without bringing the clay to the surface, that’s a bonus

“The unique, ‘optimum angle’ disc design gives greater precision and accuracy, while other features including greater protection for bearings, eliminates the costs associated with maintenance . Tough, SKF sealed bearings means there is no greasing required – another way to minimise turn-around time”

Todd says the only cost anyone will be looking at is replacing the discs after five years or so.

They’re often combined, with good effect, with Airseeders, getting excellent results, particularly, according to feedback, in kale crops.

There’s another benefit, according to Todd.

“They’re not complex to set up, so if you can drive a tractor, you’re good to go.”