The Sharp Edge: Building a strip-tillage beast with Greg Vermeersch

Sometimes, when you’re doing things a little differently, you just have to build what you need instead of buying it. Greg Vermeersch and his team at VanMeer Farms at Courtland, Ont., modified a planter frame to custom build a 32-row strip tiller unit.

It’s a fair bit of engineering, and on this episode of The Sharp Edge on RealAgriculture, agronomist with Maizex Seeds, Greg Stewart talks with Vermeersch about  integrating cover cropping and fertility management with such a large piece of equipment.

Small field sizes, especially in Norfolk county, as well as sandier soils means conserving organic matter is paramount for Vermeersch. The large strip-tiller in combination with the planter means they can make one headland, which leaves more space for turning around and saves passes for side-dressing and harvesting later on. It also means they can square up the corners in those smaller fields, not leaving any dead areas.

In the video below, Vermeersch notes that the strip-tiller unit took a lot of planning to put together, but was accomplished through the work of very talented people. They took a DD80 planter frame and found row units that matched up with their earlier tillage program with wavy coulters. Instead of broadcasting all the fertilizer, they’ve condensed its placement between the blades, in that six to eight inch range that you’re trying to hit with the planter. (more details below)

They’ve only experienced issues with sandier soils, where it’s harder to get soil movement. They’ve experimented with a more aggressive wave pattern on the coulter, changed the blade configuration, or adjusted their check valve on the airbags to deepen the unit.

“It’s probably our most efficient system right now, for fuel, labour, hours, things like that,” Vermeersch tells Stewart. He might make a few tweaks in the future like putting more N down in the strip or getting the cover crops down in the fall.

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