Tough Tillage Update

Terrace construction: How to do the job right

A diagram of terrace construction

A diagram of terrace construction

With harvest over, it’s time to start looking to next year’s planting season, and that means terrace construction.

Terracing is a great way to conserve water and soil and prevent erosion, especially for growers who live in regions with heavy precipitation. But before you dive in and start building your terraces this spring, you might want a quick refresher on terrace construction. To help you out, AMCO has created this guide to narrow-base terrace construction with our exclusive Terracing Plow.

TJ3PHASE 1: BREAKING GROUND

Begin shaping your terrace by making one or two passes along the terrace centerline. Make these passes 4 to 6 inches deep, with both gangs set at 10 to 11 inches on the tilt indicators.

Tip:  You’ll get the best results if you keep your tractor speed at 5 miles per hour or above. Faster speeds boost the upward and inward movement of soil on the terrace, reducing construction time.

PHASE 2: MOVING SOIL

After you’ve broken ground, use one gang to move soil from the areas on each side of the terrace into its base. You can do this by lowering the right-hand gang and operating the left-hand rear tractor tire just to the right of the terrace’s centerline. The gang should extend 4 to 6 feet beyond the furrow made by the outside disc blade on the previous pass. For this step, set the tilt indicator to 11 or 12 inches.

Repeat this step 2 or 3 times on both sides of the terrace. You’ll know you’re ready to move on when the soil has been worked inward enough so that the tractor is almost centered on the terrace.

Tip: To prevent one gang from taking more wear than the other, occasionally flip directions and use the left-hand gang to move soil.

PHASE THREE: KEEP MOVING AND SHAPING

Set both gangs at 12 or 13 inches on the tilt indicators. Make several passes, increasing the gang tilt by about 1 to 1½ inches on each pass. Continue to build and shape the terrace until you reach the desired height. Then make one more pass with the tilt set at 15 inches to smooth the side slopes and “crown off” the terrace.

Tip: Tilt the gangs so that all the blades are moving soil. If only one end of the gangs is moving soil, increase or decrease the tilt cutting is even.

PHASE FOUR: PREPARE FOR CROPPING AND EROSION CONTROL

Even after the terrace is built, you’ll probably have to make a few more adjustments with your Terracing Plow. One thing you may have to do is smooth and broaden the terrace channel and back slope furrow for cropping. You can do this with a disc harrow or another type of equipment.

Investing time in quality terrace construction helps ensure a successful planting and growing season. If you have any questions about terracing or about the AMCO Terracing Plow, our tough tillage experts are happy to help!


Terracing-plow

AMCO TERRACING PLOW

When building a terrace, it’s essential that you use durable, high-quality equipment that’s up to the job. AMCO is the only company that offers a plow specifically designed for terracing. Capable of building 1,000 feet of terraces or more per hour, the AMCO Terracing Plow is significantly faster than using a bulldozer or other types of heavy construction equipment. It easily fits with your equipment and can be operated by a single driver, saving you time and money. The AMCO Terracing Plow also works within Soil Conservation Service (SCS) specifications.

AMCO’s Terracing Plow can handle both narrow-base and broad-base terrace construction. It builds and packs the terrace with multiple trips through the field. In addition to building new terraces, the AMCO Terracing Plow tool can easily refurbish older terraces.

Visit our Terracing Plow page for more features and for photos of our plow in action. 

 

Did you know?

AMCO Terracing Plows can also be used for narrow-base and broad-base terrace construction.

Clearing a new food plot? AMCO disc harrows power through

Clearing a new food plot? AMCO disc harrows power through

The LOF axle size and bearings are identical to those in the AMCO 39-foot disc harrow. The LOF is available in widths up to 9 feet, so it’s more than equipped to do the job.

With summer well underway, hunters across the country are turning their attention towards food plots. They’ll need the perfect disc to ready their food plots for the fall hunting season. Whether it’s deer, turkey, or some other game, a properly prepared food plot is crucial, and AMCO’s three-point disc harrows can handle the job.

Leading the way for larger food plot maintenance are AMCO’s LTF Lift Double Offset Harrow and LOF Lift Offset Harrow. If you’re breaking ground for the first time, these discs can power through the job in one pass. Just ask Jim Wasko of North Carolina. Jim was able to convert four acres of his de-forested land into a food plot using his 9’ AMCO LOF-2224 Offset Disc Harrow, weighing in at 2,272 lbs., behind his 105 HP tractor. After hours of use in tough conditions, the gang bolts were still tight and there were no indications of damage. Jim was very pleased with the disc, stating, “If you want to buy something and feel like you spent your hard-earned money worthwhile, AMCO is the brand for you.”

One reason the LOF clears land with ease is its standard spring Shock Absorber Bearing Risers. They dramatically relieve shock when the disc blades encounter obstacles in the ground, and it’s a feature you won’t find on many comparable discs on the market.

The LTF is available is small and large frame sizes, offering options for 32 to 100 HP tractors.

The LTF is available is small and large frame sizes, offering options for 32 to 100 HP tractors.

Spring-loaded Shock Absorber Bearing Risers are also standard on the LTF. To save time, the LTF also offers an optional broadcast seeder with bracket and dragboard kit to plant and cover your seeds. Optional feathering blades will level the ground one step further. 

AMCO’s Disc Harrows are low-maintenance, efficient, and extremely durable. They are designed to pull out of the shed and go straight to work year after year—just grease up the Protect-O-Shield® Bearings, and you’re ready to break ground. These discs are powerful enough that the gangs won’t need to be set in the most aggressive position to be effective in typical soil conditions. This gives operators more control in high-moisture soil conditions than they can get with smaller discs on which gang angle settings are likely maxed out.

While cheaper, smaller discs can’t take the abuse of repeated passes each year to clear ground, the LOF and LTF make the case that an investment in a larger disc harrow will offer a great return and make yearly food plot preparation less stressful.


Not ready for the LTF or LOF just yet? For those with smaller hunting plots or gardens, the Wicked Warrior™ tandem utility disc was built with the hobbyist and recreational landowner in mind.


Tips for food plot preparation

An AMCO LTF with optional feathering blades preps Russ Berry’s garden for spring planting.

An AMCO LTF with optional feathering blades preps Russ Berry’s garden for spring planting.

Even with the right disc, food plot maintenance can be tricky, especially when trying to establish a new plot. To help you maximize your plot’s success, here are a few tips:

  • Choose a location that gets plenty of sunshine and is easily accessible to the wildlife you want to see.
  • Send in a soil sample for a lab test. This will determine your soil’s pH levels and help you pick out the best fertilizer for your plot.
  • Before planting, thoroughly prepare the soil by clearing debris and eliminating any unwanted vegetation with a disc harrow.
  • Before buying seed, research what kinds of plants will attract the animal you want to see. What appeals to a deer is different than what appeals to wild turkey, duck, grouse, etc.
  • Timing your planting is critical, but it varies on the type of plant you are growing. Research your seed options and follow the instructions provided by the retailer.

AMCO is proud to provide the tough tillage tools you need to prepare a successful food plot. To learn more about the LTF, LOF, and Wicked Warrior, call 800-748-9022 or email sales@amcomfg.com. More information on AMCO’s full product lineup can be found at www.amcomfg.com.

 

How to change the lower cutter head bearing on AMCO’s Ditcher in under an hour—without removing the chain

AD-Standard-ditcher-1Many growers think changing out the lower cutter head bearing on AMCO’s drainage Ditchers is a huge hassle. But if you have an hour of time and some basic tools, you can do it yourself—without removing the drive chain and sprocket.

Below is an overview of how to change the lower cutter head bearing on AMCO’s Vertical and Offset Rotary Ditchers (download printable instructions here). For a complete video tutorial, watch Marketing Manager Luke Andries change the lower cutter head bearing on an AMCO drainage Ditcher here.

Tools needed:

  1. Crescent wrench – 1 each
  2. 15/16″, 9/16″, ¾″, and 11/8″ sockets – 1 each
  3. Snap ring pliers – 1 each
  4. ¾″ and 15/16″ wrench – 1 each
  5. Hammer – 1 each
  6. Shop rags – 1 each
  7. Center punch – 1 each
  8. 7/32″, 5/16″, and ¼″ socket-style Allen wrench – 1 each
  9. Flat-head screwdriver– 1 each

Parts needed:

  • Bearing (PT#11381) – 2
  • Snap ring (PT#11988) – 1
  • O-ring (PT#11979) – 2
  • O-ring (PT#11329) – 2
  • Gasket (PT#11359) – 1

Changing the bearing

Caution

Before each step, make sure your work area is safe and Ditcher is secure, to avoid injury. Always wear your personal protective equipment.

1. Remove the driveline.
2. Loosen the jam nut of the idler tension screw using a ¾″ box-end wrench. Remove the tension screw.
3. Remove all cutter head bolts with a 11/8″ socket. Move the head out of the way.
4. Remove the jam nuts on the front and rear collar with a 7/32″ socket-style Allen wrench.
5. Remove the drain plug and drain all fluids with a 5/16″ socket-style Allen wrench. Once the oil is drained, remove all bolts, and the plate should fall off.
6. Remove the bottom cover. Remove the front and rear flange bolts with a ¾″ socket. Also remove the o-rings and remove the back skid for easier access.

Caution

 

 

 

7. Safely place the Ditcher on its back for easy access to the bottom sprocket. Remove the two set screws holding the bottom sprocket in place. This will allow the sprocket to slide freely on shaft. Stand the ditcher upright.

Warning

 

 

 

8. Use a punch and hammer to hit the hole on the collar—this will free up the collar.
9. Ensure the set screw is set flat to allow bearing to slide over. Take a file or sandpaper to that spot before you slide off the bearing. It should be smooth to the touch.
10. Use the punch to hit directly on the shaft, until the shaft is driven through the rear bearing and collar, and the rear bearing falls off. Pull out the shaft from the front.
11. Slide the front bearing off. Remove snap ring that holds the bearing in place. The collar and bearing interlock together, and there is a tool mark where the collar locked the bearing into place. Hit the punch in the opposite direction in of the tool mark.
12. Once it is loose, secure the locking collar in a vise. Use hammer to tap collar down and off the shaft.
13. On the shaft, there are two small o-rings that need to be replaced—remove o-rings. Make sure you are in a contaminant-free zone so no dirt/grit gets on shaft when you start replacing new parts.
14. Place new flange on shaft. Place new o-ring on shaft.
15. Slide the new bearing onto the shaft with the grooved side of the bearing face down. You may have to tap down with a small hammer until it is flush with the side of the collar. Be careful not to damage the bearing.
16. Use the hammer to tap the punch in the tool mark and lock the bearing in place.
17. Replace the set screw in collar with a 7/32″ Allen wrench.
18. With the bearing, flange, and lock collar in place, slide the snap ring back down with the large snap ring pliers. Be careful not to scar the shaft. You might have to tap it with a small hammer to get it down into the groove above the bearing.
19. Slide the o-ring over the shaft (PT#11329).
20. Position the keyway on the sprocket (inside the Ditcher) to face straight up, so you don’t have to guess which direction the keyway on the shaft should face. Slide the shaft back into the ditcher.
21. Now you’re ready to put the seal in place. Slide the o-ring over the bearing, then take the flange and make sure it is a good fit over the o-ring. Put the nuts back on—hand tighten, so there is still some play in the back while you are putting the new rear bearing on.
22. Move to the back of the Ditcher. Scrape off raised surfaces left over from the old gasket, and wipe down to remove contaminants. This will create a good seal for the new gasket.
23. Place the new o-ring over the shaft and slide it around in the screw. Slide the new gasket over the bolts in the direction the machine punched the bolt holes.
24. Place the collar flange over the bolts. Slide the bearing and collar over the shaft with the cutout grooves towards the back. Use your other hand on the front to steady the shaft.
25. Take the other new large o-ring and place it all the way around the Ditcher bearing. Slide on the flange and hand-tighten the nuts.
26. Tighten the front flange bolts, then tighten the back with a ¾″ socket.
27. Place the locking collar on the shaft, twist to lock it in, then hit down on the keyhole with the punch to tighten the lock. Tighten the set screw with a 7/32″ Allen wrench.
28. To set the sprocket, lay the ditcher on its back again. The sprocket should be completely to the back of the Ditcher. Rotate the shaft until you find your keyway, and make sure the keyway is pushed down not quite level to the sprocket.
29. The keyway takes two set screws (to ensure main locking set screw does not back out), and one single set screw on the side of the shaft. Replace the set screws and tighten with a ¼″ Allen wrench.
30. Wipe down the bottom of the Ditcher to remove contaminants. Bolt on the new gasket. Hand tighten first, then tighten completely.

Caution

 

 

 

31. Before raising the Ditcher, reattach the cutter head. Hand tighten the bolts, stand the Ditcher upright, then tighten the bolts completely.

Warning

 

 

 

32. Reattach the rear skid plate.
33. Reinstall the idler screw. You’ll feel it starting to lift the idler sprocket back into place. Tighten with a crescent wrench until it is snug, but not too tight. Replace the jam nut.
34. Replace the oil.

Your Ditcher is ready for use!

 

 

 

Cutout or smooth blades?

cutout vs. smooth blades

Choosing the right blade style for your disc harrow can be tricky. 

When you’re purchasing a new disc harrow, you’ll need to decide what style of blades will be the best fit for your operation: cutout (notched) blades or smooth (solid) blades. Which you choose comes down to what soil type you’ll be operating in and the amount of vegetation or residue you’ll be cutting through.

Sandy, loose, typically dry soils are inherently easier to cut through. In these soil types and conditions, smooth blades are a logical fit. They’ll slice through the soil like a knife with a continuous plowing action, leaving an even, level soil surface. If Mother Nature has been cooperating, the field may not require another pass with a bedding hipper or roller to smooth it out before planting.

Did you know? Because they have more surface area, smooth blades wear better than cutout blades. They are also heavier, lending more cutting power to the unit as a whole.

Heavy, wet, “gumbo” soils are likely to require cutout blades to work the soil adequately. A cutout blade will work through the heavier soils with less gumming up because it keeps rotating, leaving a more irregular surface with larger clods. A second pass with a seedbed preparation tool will be necessary to prepare the soil for planting.

Cutout blades also power through heavier crop residue more easily than smooth blades, and are a good choice if you’re working ground for the first time and will be encountering tree roots and other tough vegetation. A cutout blade will help cut and toss the root systems for better residue breakdown. Discs for construction operations almost exclusively feature cutout blades because of the high-residue situations and variety of conditions they are expected to perform in.    

To get the best of both worlds, consider going with a disc harrow with the best of both worlds: cutout blades on the front to work through tougher residue or wet soil and smooth blades on the back for a smoother finish. This setup works very well for pasture re-seeding; after cattle have compressed the dirt, cutout blades are needed to effectively break the surface, but smooth blades on the back finish the soil just enough for ryegrass seeding—no second pass to further smooth the soil required in most conditions.

Did you know? AMCO offers you the option of ordering your disc from the factory with cutout blades on the front and smooth blades on the back.

F15 combo smooth and cutout blades
AMCO’s F15 Double Offset Tandem Disc Harrows are available with a combination of cutout blades in the front and smooth blades in the back, or choose a complete set of either blade style.

If you still have questions about which blade style is right for your operation and needs, the AMCO tough tillage team is here to help. Find your closest AMCO dealer using our dealer locator, or contact AMCO today at 800-748-9022.

Want to raise your crop yields? Raise up your crops.

Rain—it can be a blessing or a curse. When those life-giving showers become excessive, many farmers look for solutions to keep their plants from drowning. Enter raised soil beds. Constructed in the fall after harvest or the spring before planting, raised beds keep plants up out of water, leading to better growth and yields. In a 2007 study at Mississippi State University, researchers found a 17.7 bushel advantage to using raised beds vs. flat ground.1

raised-beds-web

Other benefits of raised beds

The raised beds created by bedding hippers (known in some parts of the country as disc bedders) offer farmers a variety of benefits. One huge advantage is improved irrigation: the beds allow water to travel between the rows to and all the way across the fields. Many farmers choose to build beds in the fall, especially those with heavier soil like mixed clay, so they are ready to go for spring planting. Then in the spring, they knock off the very top of the ridge with the hipper and plant into it. Others with softer soil choose to create beds in the spring so they don’t degrade over the winter. Another reason to build beds in the spring would be a fall time crunch due to delayed harvest. Raised beds also offer:

  • Faster soil drying—in wet years, you can plant sooner, leading to faster crop emergence
  • Moisture retention—in a dry spring, farmers can drag off more of the tops to get to the moisture for planting
  • Crop elevation—beds keep young plants up out of the water so they don’t drown
  • Weed control—fall bed-building helps eliminate ryegrass, and many other weeds don’t like growing on raised beds

How to construct raised beds

Once you’re ready to start constructing your beds, operate the bedding hipper at 5 to 8 mph. Do not run any deeper than necessary. High speeds and shallow depths throw up uniforms beds. Low speeds and deep depth settings push the soil and may cause bulldozing in front of the gangs. Vary the gang angle to suit your ground conditions. Staggered gangs work well in most soil conditions and layer soil into smooth, somewhat rounded beds. Opposed gangs make higher, pointed beds and generally operate well at high speeds, but clog more easily in heavy, moist soil or trashy conditions.

bedding-hipper_1

How do you construct the ideal raised beds? AMCO offers High-Clearance Bedding Hippers in 6-, 8-, 10-, 12-, and 16-row assemblies. These Bedding Hippers offer some major advantages:

  • Designed to work in high-residue conditions and heavy soil operations
  • Adjustable gang angle with three settings for different soil types and bed configurations
  • 1½” square axles and two of our Protect-O-Shield® bearings—backed by our exclusive two-year warranty—for trouble-free seedbed preparation
  • Blade sizes ranging from 16″ to 24″—double blades standard, single blades optional
  • Heavy-duty, all-welded, high-clearance gang frames
  • AMCO High-Clearance Bedding Hippers are available for purchase separately or in combination with our Heavy-Duty Toolbars—Heavy-Duty Toolbar and Bedding Hipper assemblies can be custom built to fit your needs

Click here for more information and photos of AMCO’s Bedding Hipper.

1. http://deltafarmpress.com/scientist-compares-soybeans-flat-ground-versus-beds

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