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Farmer Group Builds Tools For Small Acreages
Reid Allaway is a member of a unique farm group in Quebec who get together to design and build farm equipment for smaller farms. “We figure out the design, source materials, and then organize build days to put the tools together in a central location,” says Allaway.
 Last February the group put together a 3-pt. mounted tillage tool that Allaway calls an oblique disk cultivator. It’s similar to disk cultivators used in Europe.
The group field-tested a prototype in the fall of 2016, then 3D modeled parts for the final machines. They also hired laser cutting of certain parts and CNC turning of hub spindles and shells. Allaway says the cost for those services was negligible compared to cutting and finishing their own parts with a plasma, torch or other methods. Still, the project was quite complex.
“The implements use 22-in. dia. disks, each mounted on an independent hub to allow a compound angle of attack, about 20 degrees oblique from direction of travel and about 12 degrees from vertical,” Allaway says.  “This design allows material to be pulled upward from the bottom of the worked zone, reducing the chance of smearing and compaction.”
The main frame is made of 4-in. tubing with 4 by 2-in. tubing on the sides. Diagonal bracing is made of 2-in. flat stock. The roller basket is 16 in. dia., built around 4 laser-cut plates 1/4 in. thick. A 1-in. solid shaft serves as the axle. The 13 cage tubes are 1-in. steel waterline pipe. The group used a simple assembly jig to “de-phase” the pipe by one position (30 percent) to make a slight spiral that rolls more smoothly.
“We built 15 of these disks in 5 days with help from a group of professors at the EPSH tech school in St.-Hyacinthe. It was amazing to see a big pile of steel evolve into such a phenomenal and complex implement in just a few days.”
The design is open-source and is Creative Commons licensed for replication by others.
“Each farmer built his machine to suit his farm’s needs, in the size he wanted, and with or without the spring-steel non-stop blades, which cost an additional $100 each,” says Allaway. “The frame widths ranged from 4 to 6 ft. with working widths of 40 to 60 in., depending on the configuration. Ultimately, we built tools that would cost about $15,000 each from a commercial company for about $4,000 each. Even more satisfying is that equipment like this isn’t really available with the features or sizes we wanted.
“We typically get 15 to 20 farmers involved in a collaborative build,” says Allaway. “By pooling our buying power we can get better pricing on raw materials and parts.  Participants go home having learned new skills and owning a new tool which they can readily troubleshoot or duplicate if needed.”
Co-operative farmers who’ve used the disk think it’s a very aggressive tool for incorporating residues, trash sizing, destroying perennials, and perhaps even replacing the moldboard plow as a primary tillage tool.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Reid Allaway, Tourne-Sol Co-operative Farm, 1025 chemin St-Dominique, les Cedres, Quebec, Canada J7T 1P5

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2017 - Volume #41, Issue #4