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Seeing is believing, and when Alwyn Rautenbach, of the farm Rooipoortjie in the Lichtenburg district, one day took time off to investigate what kind of machine was moving at breakneck speed through his neighbour’s lands, his own farming improved dramatically.
Alwyn says: “One day I saw a green machine working hell for leather next door. I could not understand what I was seeing and climbed through the fence for a closer look. What I saw was the Agrico High Speed Disc (HSD), which impressed me so much that I bought one immediately and within two months a second one …”
Alwyn says he had already enjoyed excellent relations with Agrico and their centre pivot irrigators, making the purchase of the HSD an easy decision, especially based on what his neighbour illustrated. Alwyn bought his HSDs in August and September last year.
“I plant wheat in winter and seed mealies or sugar beans in summer – all of it under the centre pivots. This gives me little time for soil preparation – a time-consuming job for the sensitive seed mealies – because I cannot really spray weed killer. Instead I plough my lands three times. First I work the plant rests of the previous season in and simultaneously loosen the soil. I then irrigate the lands to force the weeds to germinate as fast as possible before I disc them into the soil. After a time I do a second cultivation to work more of the emerging weeds into the seedbed.”
He is now tasking the two HSDs for the first time to cultivate for seed maize and the job is being completed much quicker than previously. The seedbed is more pleasing to the eye and the lands are more level.
“The seedbed is made up of between 25 and 30% clay. I disc 15 cm deep at 14 km/h and can now finish off a 30 hectare centre pivot land in a day. However, the main reason why I bought the HSDs is for growing wheat. I use a spreader for sowing. Previously I followed it with a harrow to work the seed in, but the harrow tines leave little furrows into which the seed falls, eventually not being covered with soil and dying soon after germination.”
“I then did a comparative trial with the harrow and the HSD and the difference was dramatic! With the HSD almost no seed was to be seen on the top of the soil and the seedbed was much more level,” says Alwyn.
It is easy to adjust the working depth of the HSD so that the discs do not cultivate the soil too deep. The rollers at the rear then cover the seed very evenly. He did the HSD trial in June. Germination was much more even and the plant stand vastly improved.
“It would seem as if I will raise my yield by at least 10% with the same input as before, which means that I will pay for both HSDs in the present season, laughing all the way to the bank,” says Alwyn.
“I think the reason for the HSD’s success is the aggressive angle at which the discs work, running in triple-sealed, self-aligning ball bearings mounted in shock absorbing rubber rings. Here and there I have rocks in my lands and when the HSD hits one, the mechanism is such that it yields easily, the discs break away and the machine suffers no damage. The rear roller, which is used to set the working depth, rounds the seedbed off beautifully and breaks the clods to manageable sizes.”
“It will be interesting to see the result when cultivating maize seed. I believe there will also be a dramatic difference,” says Alwyn.
Since September last year the two DSDs have now cultivated 650 hectares three times and they are still performing without a single problem. Alwyn is also impressed by the ready assistance of the Agrico team, even when insignificant little problems crop up.
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