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Strip tilling does exactly what the term suggests – only the strip in which the seed will be planted, is cultivated and the rest of the land with the plant residue on the soil, is left untouched.
At the Val Farmer’s Day Brian Nieuwoudt, regional manager for Orthman, explained the three main principles of strip tilling to farmers.
The principles are:
1. The ideal seedbed
No commercial farmer can afford having seed not germinating and growing uniformly. When harvesting time comes, the mealies should stand like soldiers on parade, ears on alert at an even height so that the farmer’s cents will fall into his pocket and not on the land. This requires that seedlings should germinate and grow under the best possible conditions, and it is what becomes possible with the Orthman 1tRIPr.
The strip which is tilled, forms the ideal seedbed – it is firm but aerated, without sods and deep enough without banks, and it enjoys all the advantages of the decaying biological material that has been worked back into the soil.
2. Ideal fertiliser placing
“The Orthman can fit the farming practices of every farmer,” Brian told farmers at the Val Farmer’s Day. “It depends on the time of the year you want to cultivate and place your fertiliser – immediately after harvesting, or directly before the planting season. You can use the machine to place gas or slow-release fertiliser beforehand and give the roughage time to break down in the soil before the planting season, or you can fertilise nearer to planting time, or even while tilling before planting.”
At planting time the fertiliser can be placed at the correct depth, or obliquely under the seed to be available at the opportune time when the roots of the growing seedling need it.
3. Root zone conditioning
Conditioning of the root zone is very important because, together with sun energy, that is the area where your plant has to get its nutrition from and the roots have to anchor it. The Orthman can till as deep as 350 mm depending on the soil type, and fertiliser can be placed from 300 to 350 mm deep.
“The depth is adjusted on the depth control belt. The coulter cuts through the plant rests and soil crust, and then there is a set of row-openers, which can also be adjusted depending on how much rests are on the soil, and whether it is maize or wheat. It can be removed completely if there is not much plant residue,” says Brian.
The tine breaks up compaction layers and prepares the soil for proper, even fertiliser placement. Every tine unit has an adjustable breakaway action with lightning quick automatic reset. In deep soil, where there is no chance of hitting a rock, the tines can be bolted in a fixed position.
Two corrugated coulters finish the seedbed vertically, helping to open air pockets and assist in making a seedbed of fine soil. Brian says they call it a “lift en pinch” action. A roller then crush the sods that were pushed up to form a firm seedbed. There is a choice of rollers for all soil types.
Row units are mounted to the bar with parallel shackles to ensure that the correct depth is maintained.
The machine is available in widths of 4 to 16 rows. Orthman also has a special fertiliser bin which upgrades the strip tiller to its full potential, or a farmer can use his own container for the application of liquid or pelleted fertiliser.
The 8-row Orthman 1tRIPr and the John Deere 1750-planter are ideal team mates that can be used for one action tilling, fertilising and planting.
The implement requires about 20 kW tractor power per row and is able to till, fertilise and plant at a speed of 9 km/h resulting in big savings on diesel.