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StubbleStar Shines In Narrow Rows
StubbleStar is an innovative row opener from Australia that promises to cut through the barriers to successful solid seeded no-till crops. Even better, the star-shaped disks do so while reducing fuel use, risk of erosion, and weed seed germination.
"Trials conducted in western Australia in 2005 indicate that the Stubblestar gets significantly more seedlings out of the ground than conventional disks and just as many as hoe openers without the hassles of straw blockage," says David Gregor, senior research engineer, CRC for Australian Weed Management.
Gregor is a member of a team of researchers who developed the StubbleStar. The goal of the project was to come up with a device that would reduce the need for herbicides in no-till farming, even under heavy residue/mulch conditions. What they came up with was a device that also improves seed and fertilizer placement.
Getting seed and fertilizer placed in no-till is a tough enough proposition with wide rows. Narrow rows or solid seeding make it even harder. Narrow row shovels or hoes plug up in heavy crop residue. All too often, instead of cutting straw, disks force it down into the furrow, or create a V-shaped furrow prone to smearing and compaction.
"The 20-point star-shaped blades of the StubbleStar pull the residue apart as they open the furrow, cut some of the residue and pull the remaining uncut straw back out of the furrow as the star points exit," explains Gregor. "The inner teeth from the left star mate with the inner teeth of the right star as they enter the soil. By the time the offset disks leave the soil, they are operating at an angle of almost 16¦ to each other. This is enough to lift and fracture the furrow wall in a process similar to an æinverted-T' hoe-type opener."
Nitrogen or mixed fertilizer is deposited at the bottom of the furrow. A specially designed blade mounted between the starred disks fills the serrations, creating a level and uniform seed bed of loose soil and places seed on it. Trailing press wheels improve seed covering and improve seed-to-soil contact.
Drawbar testing has shown the StubbleStar requires less horsepower (which translates into reduced fuel costs) than inverted-T narrow row hoe openers. Other advantages include being able to operate in the thick residue/mulch that suppresses weed emergence. The reduced tillage also reduces weed seed germination. Narrow row configurations also reduce weed competition by shading out what weeds do germinate.
Efforts are currently underway to partner with machinery manufacturers in North America to produce the StubbleStar units. Gregor is confident they have a fit on precision corn planters as combined row cleaning/fertilizer applicator attachments.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, David Gregor, CRC for Australian Weed Management, NSW Department of Primary Industries, WWAI, PMB, Wagga Wagga, New South Wales 2650, Australia (ph 011 61 2 6938 1907; fax 011 61 2 6938 1861; david.gregor @dpi.nsw.gov.au).

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2006 - Volume #30, Issue #4