Going Shallow? Let's Talk Tickle Tillage


Two inches. That’s deep enough tillage for Dutton, Ontario, farmer Dave Durham.

He uses a Great Plains Turbo-Max vertical tillage unit to “tickle” a wide rage of soils on his farm, including muck, sand and clays. In the latest episode of Real Agriculture’s Tillage Talk, agronomists Peter Johnson and Al McCallum quiz Durham about his tillage method and how it works on his farm.


“We’re always shallow – two inches maximum,” explains Durham. “We want to leave ground cover and we don’t want depth. We want to incorporate residue, open up the ground, give it a chance to breath and warm up.”

The Turbo Max travels behind a 240 hp tractor at 12 mph. “At that speed you can work a lot of land,” says Durham. The finger harrows following the coulters are just one of the unit’s features that catch Johnson’s eye. He notes that the harrow tines actually follow right in line with the coulters providing some nice tillage action.

Check out other Real Agriculture Tillage Talks: Does Deep Ripping Fit Your Farm? Trading Your Plow for a CurseBuster

Durham adds that drainage is one of the keys to making his system work, “You can’t afford to farm without drainage in my opinion,” he says. “If you can’t afford to drain it, you can’t afford to farm it. It’s as simple as that.”

Durham and the agronomists also assessment the Turbo-Max’s ability to handle cover crops. McCallum says the unit can struggle in tall oats but it’s up to the task when it rolls through any other cover crop.

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