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Six Foot High Monster Plow
It isn't very often that the Soil Conservation Service recommends using a moldboard plow. But that's what's happening in St. Charles County, Mo., where a 6 ft. high, one-bottom monster plow weighing 4 tons and taking a 5-ft. deep bite is reclaiming flooded bottomland.
The giant-size plow, owned and operated by Aholt & Sons, Inc., an Augusta, Mo., construction firm, is pulled by 3 Caterpillar D8 bulldozers hitched together, one in front of the other. Each "Cat" has 600 hp.
"Where sand was less than 8 inches deep, most farmers chisel plowed," says Dennis Alexander, district conservationist for the Soil Conservation Service in St. Charles County. "But on deeper sand, we recommended a moldboard type plow like this. It mixes up the soil so it isn't stratified, bringing rich soil up from deep underneath and turning under the sand."
"The plowing operation itself costs $350 to $450 per acre, depending on the hardness of the ground and the plowing depth," notes Robert Aholt, Aholt & Sons. "But in heavy clay, the plow leaves chunks of soil as big as cars. To level off those chunks, we have to go back in with another Caterpillar equipped with a blade. That operation adds about $100 to the cost."
The plow was originally built in the early 1950s by a California farmer to invert soil high in salinity. According to Aholt, only 5 or 6 such plows have ever been built. "We've had to rebuild this plow a few times," he adds. "It's not equipped with an automatic reset feature. And with three Cats pulling, hitting a tree stump or large rock can really tear things up."
The plow is 20 ft. long, 6 ft. high and 4 ft. wide. It's supported by a 16.9 rubber tire in back, a 14.9 x 29 rubber tire in the furrow, and a steel wheel in front. The company transports the plow on a flatbed truck.
In the field, the plow's 15 ft. tongue is hitched to the drawbar of the rear Caterpillar. A cable is loosened, and the weight of the plow sinks it into the ground as the Caterpillars move forward.
"Pulling at 2 mph, we're covering about one acre per hour," notes Aholt, who adds that sand is very hard on the Caterpillar tracks.
For the next 2 or 3 years on the plowed land, most farmers will plant wheat or alfalfa - crops which put deep tap roots into the soil, says Alexander. "It will take that long to get the soil structure back," he notes.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Aholt & Sons, Inc., RR 1, Box 50A, Augusta, Mo. 63332 (ph 314 228-4493).

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1988 - Volume #12, Issue #6