Review: Farmet Softer Pro is in the zone

By: Jaiden Drought

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While Farmet is still relatively new in this part of the world, the Czech company boasts almost 30 years in terms of manufacturing agricultural machinery. Farm Trader NZ’s Jaiden Drought was left impressed with its Softer Pro speed disc cultivator.

What I like about the Farmet equipment is that the Czech Republic has similar situations to New Zealand where the soil changes quickly from region to region. However, everything is just on a much larger scale over there and this is before you even include the likes of Ukraine and the agricultural giant Russia. Farmet therefore includes working widths of up to 16 metres for its machines; something that almost no other manufacturer of tillage equipment does.

The Softer Pro is essentially a speed disc cultivator. It’s an amazingly easy way to break down the more complex machines into tool zones for soil mixing, disturbance, packing, etc.

However, the Softer Pro (available in 3.5 to 12 metres) is one of the less complex machines in the Farmet range, with just two zones to master.


 

An aerial view of the Farmet Softer

FIRST ZONE

The discs were 560mm in diameter on our test machine, although there’s a smaller 510mm-diameter option depending on your requirements. Regardless of disc size, the design has them offset to each other, 24cm apart and rubber mounted for contour following. They are also serrated to give chopping and levelling between rows, all while working to a depth of up to 12cm.

The disc bearings are maintenance-free and non-greaseable. There is a nifty feature where three of the bolts go straight into the hub, while the fourth bolt goes straight through the hub and has a nut on the inside. As the disc is turning, this nut keeps the zone between the Carbide forged leg and the spinning hub clear, so you don’t get trash or baling twine or some other foreign body wrapping around the bearing, which could lead to premature failure – simple and clever.


 

A closer look at the back view

SECOND ZONE

There are multiple options for rolling or levelling – rubber, steel packer, double packer, or double V. Rollers can be spec’d based on soil type and conditions. Front paddles and following tine harrows are also a popular option, particularly if an air seeder is mounted.

This allows levelling at the front, soil mixing through the discs, consolidation with the roller and the seed is dropped after the roller but before the covering tines. Bingo – the best of both worlds.

The test machine we spent the day with was set up with the double V roller, which is best in medium to heavy soils, with a larger clay content. The roller scrapers are individually removable in a slot. This creates a chattering effect as they go along the paddock, which offers excellent soil cleaning and proves simple yet highly effective.


 

The side guard keeps the soil from windrowing pass to pass

TEST TIME

With the 6m Softer Pro mounted to a Fendt 820, an old girl who was just shy of 13,000 hours, she pulled it nicely. This machine can work up to 15km/h, although, I reckon 11–12km/h was the sweet spot where it sat nicely in the soil. It felt planted and wasn’t bouncing or weaving around. Part of the ‘planted’ feel was thanks to the front depth setting wheels that work in conjunction through a numbered position slot. This correlates with the ram shims on the rear roller to create a perfectly level machine to achieve optimum results.

The machine can be either two-point mounted on the linkage arms or on the drawbar with two large rams to level the machine. Personally, I like the two-point linkage (like our test machine) with manual adjustment of the slotted holes for the front and the shims on the rear roller.

It’s a set and forget process where the working depth, and therefore seedbed depth, across the whole paddock is the same. Often with rams operated from the cab, people feel the need to constantly fiddle around with them.


 

The Carbide legs are stronger and narrower than mild steel, giving longer service life and better trash clearance

EXTRA STEEL LINE

Extra steel is actually the opposite (in a positive way). It uses less steel but makes the machine stronger due to the high-quality materials and specialist profile cutting tools at Farmet’s factory. As many will know, adding more steel doesn’t necessarily make it stronger. In fact, it can make the whole operation less efficient, as the heavier the machine, the more diesel you burn physically dragging it around the paddock.

Having said that, you need enough steel to create disc penetration in hard ground. The angle of the offset disc on the Softer Pro as well as the large diameter notched discs had no trouble biting into the hard relatively heavy dry soil, even after it had been absolutely smashed by a strong NE wind for four days.


 

Each of the roller scrapers are removable; they also ‘chatter’ – ideal for sticky conditions

SUMMARY

Overall, the Softer Pro did a nice job. It sat level both side to side and front to back and as a result created a nice smooth finish from what’s a pretty simple machine.

We had a 200hp (149kW) tractor on the front, which seems to manage the 6m machine fine at 11–12km. If you want to get to 15km/h, well, there’s no substitute for horsepower. I felt that 11km/h generated enough speed to create the soil momentum where the heavier clods drop first, leaving the finer material on top for the large Packer roller to then firm for the drill. Sometimes just going faster does not necessarily mean you’re doing a better job.

I like the bite of the large diameter discs and the carbide shaft that created the aggressive disc angle. It’s also thinner and stronger than a mild steel leg, which allows greater trash flow, and in stony soils reduces the risk of rocks getting jammed between the leg and the disc. Lastly, I think the extra steel line gives a sleek streamlined look.

The speed disc market is congested, so if you’re in the market for a machine like this then you have an abundance of options, and this one is definitely worth considering. You will find that the Softer is actually not that soft at all; in fact, it’s quite aggressive!

Farmet products are distributed in Australia through Serafin Machinery.


 

A clear example of the nice finish the Farmet Softer leaves

SPECIFICATIONS

Working width: 6m
Total machine length: 2.7m
Working depth: 35–120mm
Number of ploughshares: 50
Working performance: 6–9ha/h
Transport width: 3m
Transport height: 3.3m
Machine weight: 3,650kg

PLUSES
- Simple yet effective machine
- Felt stable front to back and side to side when in work
- Slotted front wheel and ram shims on rear roller made levelling the machine easy
- Carbide steel leg give great strength
- Large 560mm diameter discs
- Notched discs mounted on an angle give great chopping and soil mixing
- Range of options, front paddles, rear tines, air seeders, etc.
- Wide range of rear roller options
- Large transport wheels

MINUSES
- The paint quality was average on parts of the machine


 

Large notched 560mm-diameter discs

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