2006 - Volume #30, Issue #4, Page #17[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Farmer Converts Rawson Planter Cart To Soil Warrior Zone Tillage Machine
"I heard about Mark Bauer near Faribault, Minn., who had a spring-loaded applicator and went to check it out last fall," says Bicknese. "When I got to Bauer's farm, we talked about the applicator and I placed an order. But I also found out that he had built a whole new zone tillage machine called the Soil Warrior (featured in FARM SHOW's Vol. 30, No. 2). He showed me the machine and several corn stalk fields with nice looking zones, and I was very impressed. It really got me thinking about how I could improve my no-till planting operation."
Within a couple hours, Bicknese was making arrangements with Bauer to convert his Rawson planter cart to an 8-row Soil Warrior zone tillage machine. "We initially thought we could just remove the coulters from the front of the cart and mount a Soil Warrior bar and row units on the 3-pt. planter hitch," Bicknese said, "but the Soil Warrior bar needed positive down pressure and more lift clearance."
To meet those requirements, Bauer designed a tilting lift mechanism mounted on 2-in. spindles on the back of the cart. Two 2 1/2 by 5-in. channel iron supports mount under the main frame and connect to the front of the cart. Each channel holds 3-in. cylinders with a 20-in. throw. As the cylinders extend, the 7 by 7-in. by 20-ft. Soil Warrior bar is tilted up on the pivot spindles. Row units lift out of the ground with 18 in. of clearance. When the cylinders are closed, the bar locks tight so that weight from the fertilizer box can be transferred to the row units through the force of the air bags.
The air bags act as pneumatic springs to create positive down pressure to each of the Soil Warrior row units. Pressure is supplied by a portable Ingersoll air compressor mounted on the cart frame. A dial in the tractor cab allows easy adjustments to increase or decrease down pressure as field conditions warrant.
"This machine is just amazingly simple to operate," says Bicknese. "We went across more than two thousand acres of corn stalks and bean stubble this spring on my farm and for some neighbors. Each row unit operates independently with positive depth control and positive down pressure. We incorporated dry fertilizer in zones about 4 to 5 inches deep and 10 to 12 inches wide. We followed the machine with our twin row planter anywhere from four hours to a day after zone tillage and the planting conditions were ideal. The soil in that zone warmed up probably 10 to 15 degrees prior to planting, and I think that really helped speed up germination."
Another feature that Bicknese really appreciates is the ability to quickly start and stop the fertilizer drive. Bauer adapted a 3-in. air spring to the wheel drive system with a switch in the tractor cab that raises and lowers the wheel to stop and start the drive. Says Bicknese, "I can easily do comparison tests with and without fertilizer without leaving the tractor.
"I still consider myself a no-till farmer with the Soil Warrior," says Bicknese, "and the Rawson cart, which worked well in the past, has remained intact. I'm just working about one third of the ground and applying fertilizer in the fall, and working those same zones in the spring before planting. I'm conserving moisture, leaving residue in place to control erosion and creating an ideal seedbed for young plants."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Don Bicknese, 18012 County Road 110 S.E., Chatfield, Minn. 55923 (507 951-3599) or Mark Bauer, Environmental Tillage Systems, 16936 Cannon City Blvd., Faribault, Minn. 55021 (office 507 645-2268 or cell 507 330-1049; ETSI@myclearwave.net; www. soilwarrior.com).
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