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
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:
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.
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:
Click here for more information and photos of AMCO’s Bedding Hipper.
AMCO’s small discs pack a big punch
Ask any farmer what makes a quality piece of farm equipment, and one of the words you’re likely to hear is “durability.” While AMCO’s large disc harrows are built tough to withstand harsh field conditions, so are the smaller disc harrow models used for farming and other specialized applications.
AMCO 3-point discs are available in a wide range of cutting widths from 4’ to 10’2”. The LTF Lift Offset Harrow and LOF Lift Offset Harrow have the same undercarriage as the largest AMCO disc harrow models.
The durability of AMCO’s 3-point discs is the reason they are so popular. The 3-point discs are being used for food plots, on the sides of fields, for leveling turn rows, clearing right-of-ways, fixing soil erosion, and cutting firebreaks. “Customers love our product because when they hook it up it is ready to work,” said Michael Atwood, AMCO marketing manager. “Our 3-point discs are also being used in the construction industry, which goes to show how tough they are.”
The Wicked Warrior Tandem Utility Disc (see photo above) is perfect for residential gardens, commercial landscaping, food plots, or hobbyists. This disc is built to the same rugged standards as all other AMCO disc harrows.
The LOF Lift Offset Harrow and LTF Lift Offset Harrow can be used for building and maintaining food plots, logging roads, gardens, turn rows, and firebreaks, as well as seedbed preparation, pivot turn management—or anything else you can throw at them.
Farmers are no strangers to volatility in the markets, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in the agriculture industry who didn’t see the downturn in grain prices coming after years of record highs. Financial experts are recommending farmers make smart plans to operate on low margins for the next several seasons, as these high/low cycles in grain prices tend to last for five to ten years.
Investing in equipment—and maybe adding a few bells and whistles that weren’t really needed—is something many farmers did when prices were high. Now that prices are down, the budget for new equipment has shrunk and farmers are looking to get plenty of bang for their buck when a new tool is needed.
A compact disc harrow is one piece of tillage equipment that farmers may be able to downsize to without sacrificing performance and results. Here are four reasons a compact disc harrow may be the perfect choice for your next tillage tool.
Conspicuously absent from many manufacturers’ product lineups, the compact folding disc harrow model offered by AMCO Manufacturing, Inc., packs just as much punch as the company’s larger disc harrows. AMCO also offers a non-folding option.
As farmers examine every aspect of their operation looking for ways to save without sacrificing performance, smaller equipment like compact disc harrows rise to the challenge. Don’t overlook these more affordable options as you budget for the coming lean years.
Wet weather at key points throughout the Mid-South this spring slowed planting progress, forced some farmers to switch to alternative crops, and left some crops in standing water. Especially in years like this, it pays off to have the best drainage systems possible at work in your fields. Well-planned and maintained ditches can help move water though your fields, drying them out in time for planting and draining water away from young crops before irreversible damage occurs.
First, always make sure the PTO of the tractor you plan to ditch with matches the ditcher you are considering. AMCO offers ditchers suitable for use with tractors from 50 to 110 PTO hp.
AMCO offers two Rotary Ditcher models, each available with two cutter-head sizes. AMCO expects to soon release news about numerous ditcher upgrades, making the best ditchers on the market even better.
The size cutter head determines how wide and deep your ditches are. For wide, shallow ditches that will give less of a jar when being driven over, the 24″ to 26″ head is best. If you want a deeper, narrower ditch, the 18″ to 20″ is a match.
All ditcher models throw soil and debris from the left-hand side. Since throwing soil on both sides of the drainage ditch, terrace channel, or waterway is preferred and more efficient, whenever possible, make the first pass in the center of the drainage ditch or waterway. Then make the return pass in the opposite direction, running the right wheel of the tractor in the drainage ditch made during the first pass.
Operate the machine’s cutter head five to six inches deep and travel about 2½ miles per hour. Running five to six inches deep per pass allows a natural slope to the center of the area you are working. This same process is used when cleaning a terrace channel.
For a deeper drainage ditch, start in the center and work outward. As the drainage ditch deepens, it may be difficult to throw soil out due to the steepness of the drainage bank. Should this happen, make an additional pass on the left side of the drainage ditch.
Keep in mind, when cleaning small roadside ditches, soil is thrown out the left side of the machine and may be distributed over a 50-foot area; rocks and other debris may go farther.
You have ditches for one reason: to get water out of your fields. But what if you could also use them as soldiers in your fight to minimize pesticide runoff and more importantly, nutrient loss? An added bonus? No lost cropland.
It’s very common to control vegetation growth in ditches by trimming or dredging, but in a series of studies done over ten years, Agricultural Research Service Ecologist Matt Moore has proven that ditches where vegetation is allowed to flourish are very effective at keeping pollutants from reaching nearby surface waters.[i]
In one study, samples were taken from two Mississippi drainage ditches adjacent to experimental no-till cotton fields. Moore and his research partner sampled runoff monthly and also took samples of runoff generated by storms. They found that during the growing season, vegetated ditches reduced runoff concentrations of dissolved inorganic phosphorus by 61 percent. Average concentrations decreased in vegetated ditched by 47 percent even when fields were bare. In the same fields, the vegetated ditch was responsible for reducing runoff levels of inorganic nitrogen by 57 percent over two years.[ii]
Moore’s research contributed to the decision by NRCS managers in Mississippi to include vegetated agricultural drainage ditches in the state’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Further tests conducted in California by Moore at the request of the EPA were also successful in limiting pesticide runoff in tomato and alfalfa fields, and the state has since incorporated incentives for California farmers to install vegetated ditches in its EQIP.
For a ditch that is capable of giving you a two-for-one, consider utilizing vegetated ditches. They’re one of the most inexpensive ways to manage water quality—an issue all growers will be more responsible for as time goes on if the current focus on it continues. Moore is continuing his research into how to manage the vegetation so farmers can set some of their concerns about switching to vegetated ditches aside.
[i] Perry, Ann. Southeast Farm Press, Vegetated drainage ditches can help clean up runoff water. Jan. 11, 2013. Accessed June 16, 2015.
It’s no secret that farm equipment is exposed to some rugged conditions: repeated heavy-duty use, impacts, moisture, chemicals, ultraviolet light, and extreme weather conditions can all take their toll on equipment. Because of this, it’s crucial for farmers to invest in equipment that will last.
Powder coating is a finishing method that will ensure just that. The benefits of the powder-coat finish method used by AMCO include:
How it works
The finish is a mix of curatives, pigments, leveling agents, flow modifiers, and other additives that have been ground down to powder. During the application process, an electric charge is applied to the powder particles, which are then shot out of a spray gun onto the metal equipment part—the electric charge ensures the particles stick to the metal. The parts are then put in an oven to cure. Once the equipment leaves the oven and cools, it is completely cured. As a result, AMCO expects to reduce its lead times—which are already industry leading—by 10 percent.
Commitment to modern manufacturing
For the implementation of the new process in November, AMCO’s 85,000 square-foot manufacturing space was revamped to include a 14x12x36-foot batch powder-coating booth. Paint technicians are armed with the latest application guns from GEMA, the Optiselect GMO3.
The upgrade to the painting system is just the latest step in AMCO’s plan to revitalize its manufacturing setup. Earlier in 2014, 800 new feet of rail was installed in the assembly area to improve flow throughout the plant and make it easier for assemblers to move parts through the lines.
AMCO is focused on modernizing its processes and equipment to continually build on the value it can offer customers. In addition to powder coating, AMCO has introduced improvements to the pour product line to make it stronger and more modern. More improvements to many of AMCO’s leading models will be introduced in the coming months.