1983 - Volume #7, Issue #2, Page #01[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Breakthrough Row Crop Cultivator
The first-of-its-kind cultivator uses spinning, self-cleaning discs in place of conventional shanks or tines. Last June, Eisenmenger tested one of the company's first prototypes and says that it worked better than any cultivator he had ever used.
"I've never seen anything like it in real weedy conditions where shank-type cultivators might have trouble. It cuts right through," he told FARM SHOW. "Weeds don't slip past these discs like conventional shanks."
Although the company was still working some bugs out of the machine at the time Eisenmenger tested it, he was as impressed with its construction as he was with its performance. '"It's built so strong, I told company representatives they could mount chisel shanks on it and plow with it," he says.
The new cultivator has three free-wheeling discs per row. They run horizontally under the surface of the field, slicing through weeds or uprooting them as they travel over the concave shape of the discs. The discs require no power to rotate, spinning freely on a shaft within a shaft. The friction of passing soil causes them to turn, shedding dirt and debris and minimizing wear on the discs' cutting surface.
"We think it's a tremendous no-till or minimum till cultivator," says Steve Shoemaker, J.E. Love sales manager. "The rotating action prevents plugging even in the toughest trash and weed conditions. It continually cleans itself without dumping weeds between the rows."
The new-style cultivator originally had larger discs and was used as a plow by retired farmer Franklin Smith of Lewiston, Idaho, who developed it. In the late 1970's, researchers at Washington State, who were testing the idea, turned it into a potato planter, seeding through a hollow shaft installed at the center of the discs. Smith finally turned the idea over to officials of the J.E. Love Company who discovered, after testing, that the disc design worked best for cultivating. Smith, unfortunately, died in 1981 before he was able to see his invention perfected.
Each row on the cultivator has three discs mounted by heavy linkage to a conventional 5-in. toolbar. The discs' round shanks are spring-loaded to trip over rocks and other obstacles, and they adjust laterally and vertically to varying field conditions. Discs operate at depths of up to 6 in., controlled by a guidewheel on each row. A cultivator set up for 30-in. rows has three 9-in. dia. discs, while a 42-in. row-spaced cultivator has three 13-in. discs. Discs are designed to overlap 3 in. so that as much as 1 1/2 in. can wear off before a gap develops and they need to be replaced.
"Discs last up to six times as long as conventional shovels," says Shoemaker. "In one test, for example, they wore down just 1/4 in. in 500 acres, which means they would have worked some 3,000 acres before needing replacement. Discs wear less because they turn as they encounter resistance, deflecting the impact of dirt and rocks."
Bill Mountain, a farmer in Garden City, Minn., also had an opportunity to test the new cultivator last summer. "It's a goofy looking machine but it works as well as any cultivator I've ever used. We operated it at 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 mph in corn and beans, and it did an outstanding job. Ordinarily you can walk behind a cultivator and still find a few escape weeds, but this cultivator gets them all."
Eisenmenger, the other farmer who tested the cultivator, said he had a problem with dirt build-up under the concave discs in wet conditions, causing them to drag. Love Company officials say that problem has been solved, however, by remanufacturing the discs.
Several models are available, designed to mount on Cat. II and III hitches, with or without quick couplers. Four, 6 and 8-row rigid models are available with anywhere from 28 to 42-in. row spacing. The company also makes folding models for 8 and 12-row spacing. Stabilizing coulters and row shields are available as opt
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