Minimal Tillage: Try Before You Buy

WTSIP has invested in two new minimal tillage implements that are available to trial for free on your farm's soil types and conditions.

They are referred to as strip tillage or vertical tillage implements. They are a variation on zonal tillage that are used on the Tablelands but they have not been adopted anywhere else in the Wet Tropics.

We are interested to find out if they could be useful to other growers.

What are they?

Both implements use straight, vertical coulters cut to a 'saw-blade' design. They cut any crop or cover-crop residues and penetrate the ground to approx. 200mm, taking a portion of the residues with it and pinning it below ground – all with very minimal disturbance to the soil surface.

They have the potential to be used in multiple variations and combinations with other fertilising, cover-crop planting and minimal tillage equipment.

Potential applications

There are several potential applications for these implements as follows although please note they may not be currently retrofitted for these applications.

Our goal is to trial them and get feedback from other growers about how they could be used or modified.

Some of the ideas we have had so far for potential applications include:

  • Sub-surface pinning a portion of cane trash into the crop zone in ratoons
  • De-compaction and aeration of the crop zone in ratoons
  • Sub-surface pinning a portion of cane trash into the crop zone in spray-out fallow
  • De-compaction and aeration of the crop zone in spray-out and cover-crop fallows
  • Direct-drill planting of cover-crops into cane-trash for fallow including sub-surface pinning a portion of cane trash
  • Direct-drill planting of companion-crops into ratoons including sub-surface pinning a portion of cane trash
  • Knock-down & partial incorporation of cover-crop residues
  • Minimal cultivation for near-zero till cane planting including sub-surface pinning a portion of cane trash
  • Minimal cultivation where smoothing of traffic areas is required
  • Minimal cultivation for drainage in the inter-row in place of coulter-ripping
  • De-crusting of surface-applied mill-mud including sub-surface pinning a portion of cane trash (& mud)
  • Sub-surface fertilising, including sub-surface pinning a portion of cane trash

Trying them out

The two implements are available to try for free to any growers in the Wet Tropics. Please contact your local WTSIP Extension Officer to find out more about hire arrangements or demonstrations.

The only thing we ask is that you complete an evaluation form - we want to know what you think of the implement, if you would use it and how, and any ideas you may have for improving them.

The implements are based at:

  1. Canegrowers Innisfail - contact Peter Becke on 0436 678800
  2. Canegrowers Cairns - contact Joel Tierney on 0472 869659

Contact your local WTSIP Extension Officer to find out more. 

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