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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