Deep ripping with Agrowplow lifts yield
DEEP ripping using an Agrowplow has resulted in higher yields in low and no-till cropping systems in Western Australia's grain belt. Manager of a 8000 hectare canola, wheat and barley operation at Wongan Hills, Aaron Falconer, said wheat yields in the area averaged 2.5 tonnes per hectare at best, but past experience has shown deep ripping can lift yields to between 2.5- 3 tonnes/ha. “Definitely a noticeable lift – phenomenal,” Mr Falconer said. Further north, at Moora, Tony Snell started deep ripping relatively recently on lighter country that had been ‘spaded' to mix the soil profile up and correct non-wetting sands. He found that deep ripping was needed after some subsequent ‘settling' and ‘packing down'. Like Mr Falconer, Mr Snell experienced a “pretty graphic” illustration of the results of ripping. Just using a shovel and digging down after harvest, on the ripped country he found all the moisture had gone – utilised by the crop; whereas on unripped country it was still ‘wringing wet' below the hard pan – out of reach of the crop's roots. And whereas malting barley yields on unripped country were around 2 tonnes/ ha, yields on ripped country averaged up to 3.25 t/ha, according to Mr Snell. Mr Falconer recalled they used to deep rip regularly using an older Agrowplow some years ago but the idea was dropped. Average rainfall in the area is supposed to be 400mm although they have only seen about 350mm in recent years, so chasing moisture is important. “Since deep ripping when we can, we've definitely got a better root structure, and we've broken up the hard pan allowing the roots to get down to the moisture that's there,” Mr Falconer said. “We have some deep sand but it's mainly yellow sandy loam that can become compacted here, there's a hard pan about 250-300mm down. If we get rain at the right time we deep rip before planting.” A current Agrowplow Model AP90 had been used over 4000ha on another property Mr Falconer is associated with - on deeper sand at Dandaragan - before it came to Wongan Hills where it has since done another 1400ha. Cropping around Wongan Hills commonly utilises 12m (40ft) implements with tines at 19-inch spacings and wheels at 3.0m centres. The AP90 currently employed on the farm Mr Falconer manages is a 27 tine model with two tines removed to suit the tramlining system. Mr Falconer farms some very hard country so he finds the strength of the Agrowplow's frame great. He also likes being able to “shift the tines around” to suit different crops and systems, the shape of the AP90's tine shank, and the “fantastic” trash clearance of the implement's longer tines. “It's pretty easy to pull too when the conditions are right – we were doing 6 km/h with the tractor just idling along,” he said. Mr Snell liked Agrowplow's value and price through Wangan Hills dealer Boekemans. “While my 29 tine machine works a little narrower than others, it rips a little deeper behind our 600hp Case tractor. It's been very good,” Mr Snell said. Features of the Agrowplow AP90 include a 150mm x 150mm 9mm heavy duty RHS 3-bar frame, +/- 10 degree floating wings to cover ground undulations, and boltless quick-change shanks and points. Both producers' Agrowplows are complemented by rear rollers to maintain a consistent level seedbed. In Western Australia's challenging grain belt, deep ripping with the Agrowplow AP90 has been shown to be an effective and durable answer to the challenge of accessing soil moisture and creating a productive soil profile in readiness for sowing.