Agrowplow lifts yields for WA farmers

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Deep ripping using an Agrowplow has resulted in higher yields in low and no-till cropping systems in Western Australia’s grain belt.

Agrowplow lifts yields for WA farmers
The Agrowplow AP90, demonstrated here on another property is in use on Aaron Falconer’s 8,000-hectare canola, wheat and barley operation in Western Australia

In Western Australia’s grain belt, deep ripping with the Agrowplow AP90 has been an effective solution to the challenge of accessing moisture and creating a productive soil profile in readiness for sowing.

Aaron Falconer, who is the manager of an 8,000 hectare canola, wheat and barley operation at Wongan Hills, says wheat yields in the area average 2.5 tonnes/ha at best.

But experience is showing deep ripping can lift yields to between 2.5 and 3 tonnes/ha.

"Definitely a noticeable lift — phenomenal," Falconer says.

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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 deep ripping was needed after some subsequent "settling" and "packing down".

Like Falconer, Snell experienced a "pretty graphic" illustration of the results of ripping.

Just using a shovel to dig 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.

According to Snell whereas malting barley yields on unripped country were around 2 tonnes/ha, yields on ripped country averaged up to 3.25 tonnes/ha.

Falconer recalls his operation 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," Falconer observes.

He agrees it’s therefore something of an investment.

"We have some deep sand but it’s mainly yellow sandy loam that can become compacted here," Falconer says.

"There’s a hard pan about 250 to 300mm down. If we get rain at the right time we deep rip before planting."

A current Agrowplow Model AP90 had been used over 4,000ha on another property Falconer is associated with — on deeper sand at Dandaragan — before it came to Wongan Hills where it has since done another 1,400ha.

Cropping around Wongan Hills commonly utilises 12m implements with tines at 19-inch (48.3cm) spacings and wheels at 3m centres.

The AP90 currently employed on the farm Falconer manages is a 27 tine model with two tines removed to suit the tramlining system.

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 6km/h with the tractor just idling along," he says.

Snell likes Agrowplow’s value and price through Wongan Hills dealer Boekeman Machinery.

"While my 29-tine machine works a little narrower than others, it rips a little deeper behind our 600hp [447.4kW] Case IH tractor. It’s been very good — no real problems," Snell comments.

Features of the Agrowplow AP90 include a 150mm x 150mm 9mm heavy duty rectangular hollow sections (RHS) three-bar frame, plus or minus 10 degree floating wings to cover ground undulations and boltless quick-change shanks and points.

Both Falconer and Snell complement their Agrowplow with rear rollers to maintain a consistent level seedbed.

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