High Work Rate Plough
This MSF led project has delivered a high work rate plough prototype in collaboration with UniSA Research Engineers and John Shearer.
ABOUT the project
As grain growers reach the upper limit of production gains with existing agronomic practices and varieties, they are becoming more focused on addressing the soil constraints that inherently limit crop performance, particularly in production limiting sandy soils in the southern region. These areas also tend to be low rainfall and growers have less available resources to invest in costly amelioration practices such as clay spreading and spading.
As an alternative to high cost inversion mouldboard ploughing, soil inversion disc ploughing has generated considerable interest in recent years as it offers a low-cost approach to soil amelioration that can demonstrate effective outcomes using modified old plough technologies.
However, in the southern context, significant drawbacks have been identified including the low speed of operation (2-6km/h), one way ploughing constraints, not well suited to up/back GPS guided work patterns for paddock zone amelioration, partial (30-70%) successful inversion and limited machine strength with the use of machine frames originally designed to accommodate 12” discs now being used with 30-40” discs. In addition, the delays and difficulties in subsequent sowing into very loose soil with very little residues can lead to a significant risk of wind erosion.
This GRDC Innovations Fund invested in this project from 2018-2020 to facilitate the development of a proof of concept prototype of a high work rate ‘plough and sow’ soil inversion disc plough, that also has the capacity to simultaneously sow a crop in a one pass operation. This is a significant upgrade in effectiveness and efficiency of the sandy soil amelioration operation and reduces the risk of soil erosion that is high with current practice and limits adoption of existing technology.
The high work rate plough has undergone field performance assessments and validation in collaboration with MSF and the GRDC Sands Impact project to demonstrate the capabilities of the prototype and compare its performance against other soil amelioration practices.
A commercial High Work Rate plough is available for order from John Shearer.
High Work Rate Plough Prototype in action
GRDC project 9176574 (2018-2020)