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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Has anyone done any trials on a cultivator vs a protill in preworking. For soil moisture conservation, seedbed preparation. I am in a dry area with light land I prework twice on my organic farmland with cultivator.
I was thinking of first pass with cultivator second with protill?
Any info is appreciated.
 

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Pro till is a giant rototiller. It drys out the top. I would never use it for prework in my area. Also fines up the land. I would also be worried about land blowing

They work good for breaking old hay land but other then that there useless in my dust bowl
 

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Ya I love how a field looks after it’s been worked. But I can’t have 2 inches of dried out dirt
 

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Always think about what is your goal with that pass across the field.
Annual weed control?
Perennial weed control?
- what perennials? Thistle need different approach than let's say quack grass.
Seedbed preparation?
Residue management?
Leveling surface & ruts?

Based on what you want to do you, there is different tools that work better or worse. In organics residue needs to be managed right at or after harvest and there for sure a machine like protill or so will be excellent but if you have thistle you will also spread and multiply your thistles.

Perennial weed control is most successful in spring when they are actively growing and there a tine or sweep that goes deeper will work good also don't forget the roodweeder still has it's place in an organic situation. But after perennial weedcontrol it's often too late for a full season crop and the moisture is lower too. That would be ideal for a cover crop year.

If there is not too many perennials and only annuals in spring a cultivator with wide sweeps that undercut the entire surface will be ideal but it needs to be a precision tool otherwise it's going to too deep and moisture loss is too great.
A disc in spring is certainly not ideal, dries out the entire working depth, need to go too deep for good weed control, pulverizing and then wind erosion, soil compaction in low spots (that have the highest yield potential usually) etc. but sometimes if too much residue or other problems then it might be the only tool possible.

We have good luck with good straw management at harvest and a pass with the compact disc right after but if it's before Sept. 10 we also broadcast a cover crop (mix) before we disc. The light cover crop will protect the soil over winter and in spring we do one or max two passes with a wide sweep (carbide) to get good weed control of whatever has germinated. This pass is right before seeding and we try to stay at max 1.5". That way we do not loose too much moisture and usually get good germination by seeding into the unworked soil at about 2". We use disc opener (JD). If we use the disc in the spring we'd like to see a rain after and then another pass with the wide sweeps @1.5" right before seeding otherwise germination is a problem. But we are in SK and we for sure can't count on a rain in May. Rodweeder will also work as a pre-seeding tool but perfect setup is not that easy and is high maintenance.
Good luck with whatever you do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Always think about what is your goal with that pass across the field.
Annual weed control?
Perennial weed control?
- what perennials? Thistle need different approach than let's say quack grass.
Seedbed preparation?
Residue management?
Leveling surface & ruts?

Based on what you want to do you, there is different tools that work better or worse. In organics residue needs to be managed right at or after harvest and there for sure a machine like protill or so will be excellent but if you have thistle you will also spread and multiply your thistles.

Perennial weed control is most successful in spring when they are actively growing and there a tine or sweep that goes deeper will work good also don't forget the roodweeder still has it's place in an organic situation. But after perennial weedcontrol it's often too late for a full season crop and the moisture is lower too. That would be ideal for a cover crop year.

If there is not too many perennials and only annuals in spring a cultivator with wide sweeps that undercut the entire surface will be ideal but it needs to be a precision tool otherwise it's going to too deep and moisture loss is too great.
A disc in spring is certainly not ideal, dries out the entire working depth, need to go too deep for good weed control, pulverizing and then wind erosion, soil compaction in low spots (that have the highest yield potential usually) etc. but sometimes if too much residue or other problems then it might be the only tool possible.

We have good luck with good straw management at harvest and a pass with the compact disc right after but if it's before Sept. 10 we also broadcast a cover crop (mix) before we disc. The light cover crop will protect the soil over winter and in spring we do one or max two passes with a wide sweep (carbide) to get good weed control of whatever has germinated. This pass is right before seeding and we try to stay at max 1.5". That way we do not loose too much moisture and usually get good germination by seeding into the unworked soil at about 2". We use disc opener (JD). If we use the disc in the spring we'd like to see a rain after and then another pass with the wide sweeps @1.5" right before seeding otherwise germination is a problem. But we are in SK and we for sure can't count on a rain in May. Rodweeder will also work as a pre-seeding tool but perfect setup is not that easy and is high maintenance.
Good luck with whatever you do.
This second pass I'm looking for annual weed control and seedbed prep. Excess residue isn't an issue for me. My current cultivator leaves soil uneven and loose. What is a good implement for the wide sweep undercutting and precise depth control?
 

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Sorry just to clarify, you farm in a dryland area of Sask and are preworking twice before seeding? That seems way risky in this environment.

I dont know much about organics but back in the day before continuous cropping, anyone that hoped for long season control with steel had to wait until early June to put the crop in. At one time before we went all continuous cropping with an air drill, we had a cultivator pulled ahead of a hoe drill so the operation could be done all at once and the land seeded into moisture and packed down all at the same time. You would get sort of a double prework, seed bed prep and seeding all at once.

I would look at some sort of option like that. Now days the protills and some of those machines can be rigged up to seed at the same time. even seeding with sweeps on an air drill would at least let you get it done in one operation before the land could dry out.

Is there any option to heavy harrow as the first pass just to warm up the ground and get things growing a bit before it gets worked?
 

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Protills and machines like them have there place. I have seen guys locally here in central Alberta create themselves some mess's with these machines. I don't know if they aren't set right or aren't working deep enough, but I have seen several guys go into heavy trash situations, Wheat, Peas and Barley mainly work it once in the fall, and have it look nice. However, come spring when they go in to seed they end up pulling all that material up creating piles and plugging their drills up. They they have to protill deep and ahead of the drill just to get the seed in the ground. I have also seen protilled ground blow really bad, drifted in the fence row bad. I have seen cultivated ground blow as well, but generally one pass with a cultivator won't make our soil blow. I know your conditions are probably different, but around here if you work 2 inches deep with a protil or cultivator it will dry out down to that level. Mostly guys with protills are only really using them to work up ruts water runs headlands and create fire guards. Very few work the whole field, but then again the guys who were protilling all the straw in are now having it baled off instead so straw management isn't as much as an issue. The place I have seen them really shine is in breaking sod. Basically I have seen two pass with a protill and then seed.
 

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You should look into buying a 12 inch space concord with farm land boots, 12 inch true width sweeps, and a powered victory rod. We used that exact set up for seeding for 10 years and grew some amazing crops. The weed control was better than just a cultivator. We sometimes would use the air drill instead of a cultivator when working up ground because the weed control was way better. That setup was great on dandelions, bearded foxtail grass, and others in the spring. With that set up it kept the straw up top and killed the weeds very well at seeding time.
 
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