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All these threads about twin knife drills and the thing I noticed is everyone has to heavy harrow.

20 years ago the principles of zero till were to leave the surface undisturbed to not give weeds a seed bed and to maintain the trash on the surface to protect the soil. Now it's somehow become convention to drag straw around and bury weed seeds so they grow in the spring.

Manufacturers come out with these drills that are supposed to be so wonderful because you can go wider or buy less openers. But where are the savings going? To buy heavy harrows, diesel fuel and hours on the tractor to pull them?

I don't get it. It seems contradictory to me to claim savings are made on the drill when another operation is required.

Is this the new min till? Instead of hitting the field with a culivator you go out with the harrows instead?

Or have the principles of zero till evolved where it's ok to scratch the surface?
 

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Interesting topic ol blu!! For the first time in many many years we did exactly just what you are talking about. Bought a 70 foot Degelman with a valmar and spread all granular chemical and scratched the surface this spring . Results we think are very positive and cite the folllowing advantages we have seen thus far:

1) Soil contact with granular chemical allowing for faster activation. Edge and Bonanza are working excellent this year.

2) Ground was completely sealed up with no cracks conserving moisture. Was able to seed mustard on May 6 at half inch into wet ground. Had a new 1/4 that i rented last minute that was side by side harrowed land and what a difference in moisture

3) Early germination of small weed seeds like stinkweed etc. Have never had as clean a start in pulse and oilseeds as this year.

4) Could spread trifluralin at 90 acres an hour with very little fuel being used on our 9420. This is more fun than pulling a 50 foot valmar

5) Levelled out gopher and badger hills

Just some advantages we saw this year.
 

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We have been no till for 20 years now and did not use to harrow much at all had a twin knife drill for a while and went to a hoe drill 10 years ago. We are finding our soils have evolved and are much mellower than they used to be which is a good thing but a little harder to find good seed placement as the soil wants to fall into the furrow in the days after seeding so we are finding inconsistant depth at times so for us a harrowing with the mid harrows from Bourgault (formerly Delmar) are doing a nice job of seed bed firming along with some leveling action. I do know of others with the twin knife drills and they are finding rough feilds so using harrows to level them out. Just what I am noticing, if you want to seed 1/2 " deep canola or flax and you have 1-2"
furrows the seed bed may not be as consistant as you want regardless of your depth control system although if seeding between the rows it is better but there is still some variability.

Also using granular herbicides for rotational purposes and the harrows help incorporate in the top 1" and working well .
 

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On our place if I could always combine my crop in 30 degree days with a 30 mile an hour west wind day and night I would not need to heavy harrow, but since the good harvest days seem to start after I have combined my crop I have to do something to make up for it. We also do all our spring wheat tough and are always just caught up to the curing process in the fall. I also see better seed to soil contact and a blacker furrow that helps warm the soil after seeding.
 

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For us heavy harrowing in the fall has more to do with getting the weed seeds to grow in the fall instead of the spring, and straw mgnt. That way the weeds freeze off and our fields are cleaner in the spring. And they are, we didn't harrow a couple of fields and they were dirtier this spring than the ones we harrowed.
 

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I agree with olblue, interesting topic though.

Where I am a lot of people are running sheep and cattle on stubbles so they get some natural harrowing.
We don't have stock however and prefer the 'cut it, spread it, forget it' theory. We don't touch our stubbles from harvest to seeding, have had issues with lumpy fields from Seedhawk but I refuse to disturb my soils any more than I have to, inter-row seeding helped here. (But has issues of its own)
We have rotary harrowed the odd field in the past to try and encourage an early weed germination in problem areas but no need to anymore.
www.kellyharrows.com

Many guys doing zero till with discs, which we have just changed to, are finding that some chemicals are working better with no disturbance as the weed seeds are sitting on top. Things like metribuzin and metolachlor, as long as there is some rain to help incorporate.

Getting straw chopper to spread evenly and wide enough is challenging though. We still run a 30' header and prob wouldn't go wider than 36' for that reason, but never say never.

Its a very debateable topic
 

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i think it heavy harrows have their place in regions where their is lots of M.O.G. and straw after harvest like the black and gray soil zones. we need harrows to spread trash evenly from the back end of the combine. mind you if you had a good chopper and a twin knife or disc drill you might be able to get away without the harrows. for those of us who still run older equipment (hoe drills and factory straw choppers) harrows are a great option for us rather than get a new drill. however if you can get good emergence and not plug your drill with trash without the need to harrow your fields, power to ya.
 

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I'm lazy and haven't harrowed any stubble before seeding... in the past I have seeded canola on flax stubble to get the nice clean finish without straw piles.. but I have now dropped flax from my rotation(too lazy to deal with the straw) so the past couple of years I've been seeding canola into durum stubble.. I think if time and weather permit I'll be harrowing the durum stubble next fall.. my land has been 0-tilled for up to 30 years and it is very mellow.. so firming it up would help with a better seed bed for canola, plus the advantage of having the straw pulverized will eliminate straw piles..
I'm not looking forward to harrowing. I hate doing it.
 

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I don't have 30 years of no-till experience, but on my farm harrowing is something you want to do in the fall right after the combine.
Harrowing in the spring may help dry out wet soils or seal dry and cracked soil, but my experience has been that it encourages weed growth in the spring ahead of seeding. Unless, you're planning a pre-seed burn-off, encouraging weeds to germinate ahead of seeding is a bad idea.
I have been able to seed in wetter conditions since going no-till anyway. Our harrow generally gets used a couple weeks every fall and thats it.
 

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We have used rotary harrows in the past to incorporate granular avadex. Did it once in the fall on our hilly land that was chem fallow. Got decent snow, a warm spring with lots of runoff and had 12 inch thick rings of straw around all the sloughs. Had to get the combine out in the spring to deal with the broken off straw. Worst part is that it was a new combine (demo) that we had never used before! The 1st time using it and we were thrashing straw piles in the spring so we could seed. Didn't do that ever again!
 

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Perhaps, although the land we were on had the most rocks we own! It was damp and the match wouldn't work, and harrows wouldn't touch them, and the morris maxim II was just a big dump rake! It was our only option other than seed around them.
 
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