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With the talk of heavy harrows, what seems to be the best method in your area for warming and drying the soil. I understand in an ideal situation, wait, however that doesn't happen.

Concerned about a heavy harrow in our soil and the potential wear...

Is there a specific brand that seems to go through wet soil better?

I'm not as worried about straw management as I am about being able to dry the soil during the tough springs.
 

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You are wanting vertical tillage like RTS salford etc. However I dectect an element of cost carefulness which will steer you to the harrows. Dont worry about wear on harrows cause its the cheapest machine to run out there.
 

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Look at a gates Coulter harrow...
Light and a good mix for breaking open wet ground.

Skgrain is right. If you have heavy wet ground, the RTS might be a better option if you can pull it. A harrow alone may not be enough.
 

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Do the coulter machines work well for leveling ruts? We found a cutivator with harrows did a good job in leveling ruts as long as it was combined. If the ground had a summer full of tall weeds then the cultivator is not a good implement because it plugs up. It is amazing how much mud we could go through with a cutivator. I am suprised more farmers do not use them.
 

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Heavy harrow is the way to go, especially since the harrow is the first piece of equipment on the field in spring usually so there is no ruts to level. Your just trying to open the soil to dry it out, at least thats what we go for. Vert tillage certainly has its place but we have found they are too heavy/hard to pull when it gets really wet, not to mention the huge depreciation & maintenance. The challenge is when you've been zero til for several years and you've got hard, wet soil, a lot of heavy harrows don't move enough dirt then to get any drying action or if your trying to incorporate any product. If you want maximum aggressiveness then a Elmers Super 7 harrow has a lot of tines or going to something like a Gates coulter harrow certainly gets the dirt moving. The Gates will come in smaller sizes and will pull harder however.
 

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Just a few observations.

In certain soils, the heavy harrow likes to pack the ground leaving the top <1" dry and below that is just muck. I talked to a farmer near Naicam who noticed the same thing. So, I went searching for a mid-harrow such as a bourgault 6000, but they are not suitable for fall work. In the end, something like the Elmers Super 7 may look expensive from the outside looking in, but if it can do both spring and fall work effectively, then it essentially replaces 2 machines with 1.

I think that much of the issues can be avoided with work in the fall. Proper drainage, effective crop residue management, maybe banding fertilizer, etc. I still don't think there is 1 tool that can do it all without many drawbacks. I still do like a bourgault field cultivator with sweeps and a good set of harrows though, but the productivity can't keep up in front of the really big drills.

I think a farm needs a combination of field-prep equipment.
 

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Keep in mind that I am in an area of typically excess spring moisture, but I am still a fan of a heavy harrow pass to spread straw if needed, then fall banding fertilizer (always at an angle to the drill, sprayer, combine passes) to level ruts (somewhat!), open the ground and blacken things up a bit. Usually that is all we need between harvest and seeding. Although, about 1/3 of our fields did get a heavy harrow pass in 2014 to dry them out. (And another 1/3 got the harrows across the low spots and headlands.)

Obviously every area, and every farm, and every field, is different though!

Andrew
 
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