I am trying to make an equipment decision, and I need some
guidance. I am expanding my farm from 3 acres to 20 acres.
I have a tractor (64 horsepower) and need to purchase some
tillage equipment. My question is this: Should I purchase
a disc and roller, or should I purchase a tractor mounted
rotovator? Are these two methods of tillage comparable? I
transplant many crops: tomatoes, eggplant, basil, and flowers.
I also direct seed crops such as melons, pumpkins, squash
and corn. Your help is greatly appreciated.
Here are my thoughts on tillage: If I were to buy one piece
of equipment for vegetables, I'd take a long look at a spading
machine. It is the most gentle on the soil and does a good
job as a one-pass tool for incorporating cover crops. We don't
have one here at the institute, but there are times I wish
we did. We do use rotovators. I will say that they work fine,
but the soil needs to be dry or you run the risk of creating
a hard-tillage pan under the tillage zone, and the tilled
soil can turn to cement.
The disc and roller you mention are really secondary tillage
tools that normally follow some sort of primary tillage such
as a moldboard plow or a chisel plow. Moldboard plowing, discing
and rolling is a time-proven system that can be hard on the
soil but gives you options, not the least of which is a discount
on lots of used stuff out on the market.
Like any occupation, the more tools you have in the tool
box the better off you'll be. There never is a one best tool
for all tasks, although the spader comes close (but not without
a high price tag). Whatever system you chose, keep in mind
that with tillage less is better. Plow less, rotovate less,
or spade less. Do only as much as you need to in order get
a good seed bed and manage your weeds.
Good luck with your expanded operation,
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