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I have been on a quest to find the perfect tillage tools for my farm for quite some time now. I had demo'd a Pro-Till and a Lemkin when they broke onto the scene a few years back. Excited by the field finish, but disappointed when seeding through the lodged cereal stubble the next spring. This lead me on a search for something more... something... variable! The idea of adjustable gang angle is not new, but it hasn't been perfected. Summers, Great Plains, Mandako, and Gates, among others, have been using this concept for years. Each implement a little different than the next, but in my opinion, somewhat rough around the edges. The idea of tillage in my area had been all but forgotten about, with the onslaught of no-till seeding equipment, and a fairly dry 10 year span where the sloughs and low spots had been farmed through, and forgotten that they had ever held water. A heavy harrow was all you needed in this new age of farming! But the sloughs slowly filled, and the wet falls have come back from their hiatus since the 80s, which affects tillage requirements. It was during this weather trend towards wetter conditions when I decided I needed a tool to manage slough bottoms full of weeds, lodged cereal stubble, and poorly chopped residue. I knew that a heavy disc would do the job I needed it to, but was it the best choice? These paralink drills that we use these days are truly phenomenal pieces of equipment, but they don't perform well in loose soil, nor does any hoe drill really. So maybe a nice heavy disc with a rolling basket?.... But then I asked myself, why uproot all the root systems if I didn't really need to. leaving that stubble anchored would help keep residue flow issues to a minimum. But I still felt that bringing up some black dirt to promote decomposition, and aid in the warming of the soil in spring was important. In my opinion, here in NE Alberta, soil warming cannot be over looked.

I eventually settled on a 40' Gates Coulter Disc II, and it has been doing a decent job on our farm for 3 years now. But I see areas where it could be improved. For the most part I run the gang angle at 7 degrees. this keeps about 75% of the stubble anchored to the ground, throws around some black dirt, and does not burry the straw. In theory, lodged cereal stubble is chopped up by the coulters, spread by the harrows, and packed by the rolling basket to begin decomposition... this unfortunately isn't reality. Even at 800lbs/ft the coulters roll over the lodged straw, and the residue management is left to the harrows. the extremely heavy 2 bar harrows on the gates actually do a decent job and I have never had a major wreck in the spring because of it. This is when I started to think I had gotten my residue management strategy wrong. I began looking toward the gates coulter harrow, but ultimately decided that it was simply too light to turn up any amount of black dirt in our generally "dry" heavier clay soil in fall time. So I waited. I anxiously awaited the release of the Versatile Fury, but found that it was pretty much a carbon copy of its predecessors, and not what I was looking for.

Fast forward to Ag In Motion 2018, and low and behold there it sat. A lime green behemoth of a harrow, the DHX-600, which had two rows of wavy coulters sitting under an implement that weighed in at 32000 lbs without its ballast tube full. Where did this unicorn come from!? And how did I not know about it!? Of course we were rushed that day, and all the Schulte reps were chatting with other patrons of the show, so I carried on to further my research on the drive home. Not only did Schulte come up with my dream residue management tool, but they came up with an innovative variable tillage unit that seemed to check all the boxes as well. These two pieces of machinery have the potential to handle all the tillage and residue management on our farm, in virtually any condition. Schulte did a poor job in releasing these units to the public, but maybe it was because they only are building 15 pre production units, and you cant even price out the 42' version of the VTX yet. The you-tube video release was sometime in February, and I was still watching videos on the Fury! They are not cheap, but they may have potential. Wait and see if we are able to get a demo this fall... fingers crossed!

Does anyone have any more info on these units, other than what is on the website?

How are you managing residue on your farm?
 

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K melnyk have you tried using a heavy duty 12 inch space cultivator with 1-2 inch spikes and harrows. It is amazing how well this works when pulled at 8-10 mph. It blackens it and the harrows on the back do not lump the straw if you go fast enough. Most of the straw is still anchored. I really like this when needed and it is a fraction of the price.
 

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This looks like what Salford has been doing for quite a few years now, with the 2100 being the current incarnation. Maybe I am missing something though.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
K melnyk have you tried using a heavy duty 12 inch space cultivator with 1-2 inch spikes and harrows. It is amazing how well this works when pulled at 8-10 mph. It blackens it and the harrows on the back do not lump the straw if you go fast enough. Most of the straw is still anchored. I really like this when needed and it is a fraction of the price.
I have often circled back to this option in my head, but I always worried this type of tillage would result in tillage lines in the crop the next year from the wider spacing, and narrow opener. have you seen any of this in your crops?

This looks like what Salford has been doing for quite a few years now, with the 2100 being the current incarnation. Maybe I am missing something though.
In some ways you are correct, the DHX puts more emphasis on harrows than coulters to manage residue. I can run my gates very similar to a 2100, or 4100 depending on how I set the gangs, each have their place. The Disc harrow is pretty much a heavy harrow that throws some dirt around. When I think Salford, I immediately think pea stubble. I would be surprised if this unit could manage pea ground.
 

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With the harrows behind we have not seen any problems. I have only done it a couple years when neeeded. It is amazing how well it works. The nice thing is it does not open up all the ground and you still have a great seed bed. I have a 53 foot cultivator set up for this purpose and use it when needed. With the spikes or narrow tips I think it would be a lot better for dealling or preventing shallow compaction compared to disk machines. The nice thing is when it is so dry and there is no need for it you do not have to worry about all the investment you have sittting there doing nothing. I have another cultivator about the same size with shovels on it to work sloughs in the fall as well. It is amazing what a cultivator will do in sloughs when pulled with some power and speed. We had a slough full of bullrushes for 20 plus years that we worked this spring with it. We burnt the odd spot of odd bullrush residue. The cutivator worked great when we finally got 500 hp on it and could get the speed up. When you spike with a 53 ft cutivator travelling 8-10 mph you can cover a 1/4 very quickly.
 

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Has anybody had a chance to demo the Schulte units?

The DHX600 interests me as a replacement for both our heavy harrows, as well as possibly our ProTill as we move to less true tillage. And would probably also get rid of our old deeptiller that's strictly reserved for drying out potholes.

We rented a gates coulter harrow without the rolling baskets, and I liked the job it did, but this just looks better.

I'd like to demo one, but no real Schulte dealers in our area.
 

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Has anybody had a chance to demo the Schulte units?

The DHX600 interests me as a replacement for both our heavy harrows, as well as possibly our ProTill as we move to less true tillage. And would probably also get rid of our old deeptiller that's strictly reserved for drying out potholes.

We rented a gates coulter harrow without the rolling baskets, and I liked the job it did, but this just looks better.

I'd like to demo one, but no real Schulte dealers in our area.
My concern with any unit like this that stirs up damp soil before harrows is that straw does not harrow very well/even if it is not dry. Also being heavy tines it will do a generally poor job at straw management. Looks very heavy too.

Honestly have you tried a Super-7 harrow? There is a reason that Bourgault/Summers and possibly others now are copying that design, it is amazing at straw management. If you have bad ruts no coulter unit or harrow will smooth it out properly, better keep the deep tiller. If it's wet the Super-7 will do a pretty good job on ruts though.
 

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I see it having a fit in the spring for drying. Good pressure on the counters, light pressure on the harrows. That's when we used the Gates and it did an excellent job on wheat stubble, after 9 inches of rain in 12 days. But I see your points about ruts and damp straw.

I think a guy could have every set of harrows and piece of tillage equipment sitting in the yard, so you had one that worked in every condition, and when the time came, you still wouldn't know which to use
 

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Conditions here are probably pretty different from you. However some no till guys in heavy wheat (100+ bu/ac) have settled on post harvest mowing, chiseling, and then a spring harrowing before 1 pass seeding. I wouldn't call it no till. But they like you want to open up and dry out the soil for springtime. I'm sure you've heard that residue management starts with a combine, I know you can only do so much with it as well. Kind of surprised the pro till didn't work for ya, the guys that have tried it around here talked pretty highly of it but no one owns one. I'm still figuring out my system but right now I get away with just heavy harrowing but like I said conditions are drier here. In the future I plan on fall chiseling if residue and weed control is necessary. Curious what kind of drill you use?
 

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I do actually love our Protill, and it works excellent for residue management, but can turn things quite black very quickly. This is fine if the bias stays wet, but we've been caught a few times where its sopping wet in the fall, then in the spring it's too dry.

And it's really not a great spring tool in our operation. Even with the rubber packer, it leaves things a little too loose if its dry, and packs it to concrete if its wet and sees some sun. If done in the fall, these are non- issues.

We replace hammers yearly, and always sharpen or replace stationary knives. PowerCast tail board does an excellent job of spreading residue full width. We generally like to harrow in the fall when it's hot and dry if we can, and that's usually enough. But if we don't get the weather in the fall, spring we can fall flat.

We have an Amity (back to Concord) PSD61. Its proven itself an extraordinary no till drill, even though it itself isn't no till.

Where I feel like we need an implement to fit better is in the spring for warming and drying, if necessary. It's a big heavy drill that doesn't like mud, which we can often have a lot of.

My dad farmed a lot of dry years, we've both farmed in a lot of wet as well. The key here, is trying to be flexible and adaptable
 

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I see it having a fit in the spring for drying. Good pressure on the counters, light pressure on the harrows. That's when we used the Gates and it did an excellent job on wheat stubble, after 9 inches of rain in 12 days. But I see your points about ruts and damp straw.

I think a guy could have every set of harrows and piece of tillage equipment sitting in the yard, so you had one that worked in every condition, and when the time came, you still wouldn't know which to use
If I had every piece of tillage equipment that I could use in every condition likely would not want to look at the fuel bill let alone the cost of the iron. As mentioned above, being adaptable without breaking the bank is pretty important. For now that means renting a protill if Fall conditions/fertilizer prices warrant it. I do think that Schulte is interesting as could almost see it as being useful in most any Spring condition we have. Getting that soil warmed up around here is a real benefit most years and even if it is dry using the harrow without the coulter would be ok. If it built as tough as Schulte mower we have it may be good, but that price is still hard to justify. I am very sure that I will not be first person to buy one around here; it would be nice to rent though. With conditions we have here now will be digging out old cultivator with spikes and getting it tuned up for at least a few aces.
 

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A couple things about that unit would concern me on our operation.
First off I believe the high speed discs, especially with concave discs without notches, can become major compaction culprits.
The rows of discs look to be too close to me. At high speeds, the first row of a concave disc can really throw dirt and residue straight back on to the top of the second row discs, which can cause plugging. At least this was the case with the Joker we used to have. I always thought the Joker would plug less if the distance between disc rows was greater. This was a problem magnified in corn, which may not be a concern to many of you.
In wet conditions there were times that I thought harrows on the Joker would have been much better. However, if possible those tools should probably be avoided in wet conditions due to compaction.
So if conditions are right... I think having packers on these discs would be desirable. When you flop that much dirt around, it's probably going to dry out if you don't press it back down immediately with some press.

The most versatile tillage unit on our farm is our Summers Super Coulter. If stones aren't a problem, I think it would have a great fit on most farms. However, you have a similar machine with your Gates.
 

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I think you're talking about the other SoilStar machine. The Protill/Joker/speed tiller etc competitor. I don't like the design of it. I agree with your points on it

If I was back in that market, I'd look seriously at a Versatile Fury.

It's the one with the two rows of coulters and the heavy harrow sections that I'm more interested in
 
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