Let ‘er Rip! Subsoiling is Back

Twenty years ago agronomist Pat Lynch had no love for subsoiling and deep rippers. But times have changed and so has Lynch’s view.

As 10 different deep rippers tore across a field at the Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show tillage demo earlier this week, Lynch told the gathered crowd that the evolution of farming over the past two decades has caused him to reevaluate the value of the implement.

In this video, Lynch explains the big change is the size of the equipment farmers are using in the fields. Those large tractors, combines, and grain buggies are creating a compaction challenge, says Lynch who adds “forage fields are one of the most compacted fields that we have.”

The need to harvest in less-than-ideal conditions has also contributed to the return of the ripper. Lynch notes that 2013 and 2014 were both wet harvest years. “We said get the crop off and we’ll deal with the compaction you create later. In 2016 when it turned dry we could see a lot of compaction that was caused in those wet years.”

Deep rippers allow farmers to do something about it, he maintains.

Lynch believes committed no-tillers should also take a look at the potential benefits.

“The thought is that when I no-till, I’m not doing all this tillage so I don’t have compaction. That’s only partially true,” says Lynch. “You’re not doing tillage compaction but if you have big tractor, big grain buggy, big combine, you’re compacting the soil … down underneath. You will get compaction in a no-till field.”

He believes no-tillers who are looking to keep crop residue on the surface can have their cake and eat it, too. “As you see the deep rippers that have gone though here, with most of them there is very little soil disturbance. You can go in and do deep ripping and probably a maximum of 10% to 15% of the residue on the surface will be disturbed.”

In the video, Lynch also offers tips for farmers on how to evaluate deep rippers and find the right fit for their farm.

Find more from the 2016 Outdoor Farm Show here!


Bernard Tobin

Bernard Tobin is Real Agriculture’s Ontario Field Editor. AgBern was raised on a dairy farm near St. John’s, Newfoundland. For the past two decades, he has specialized in agricultural communications. A Ryerson University journalism grad, he kicked off his career with a seven-year stint as Managing Editor and Field Editor for Farm and Country magazine. He has received six Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation awards for journalism excellence. He’s also worked for two of Canada’s leading agricultural communications firms, providing public relations, branding and strategic marketing. Bern also works for Guelph-based Synthesis Agri-Food Network and talks the Real Dirt on Farming.


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