High speed disk tillers hit the market several years ago and have quickly grown in popularity.
“For us here in Pipestone, the High Performance Disk has been our number one selling tillage tool,” said Steve VanDyke, sales representative at C&B Operations in Pipestone.
Different brands have different names for their high speed disks. John Deere’s is the 2680H High Performance Disk. Case IH’s is the 475 Speed-Tiller. Whatever they’re called, the common factor, as the name suggests, is speed.
“Speed is a big deal,” VanDyke said.
According to John Deere, the 2680H is made to be used at 10 to 14 mph. Curt Fey, equipment sales consultant at Titan Machinery in Pipestone, said the 475 Speed-Tiller is made to go seven to 10 mph. Years ago, the typical disk speed was around 4 or 5 mph.
VanDyke said C&B in Pipestone started selling John Deere’s High Performance Disk in 2018 and they quickly became popular due in part to extremely wet conditions in 2018 and 2019 because the higher speed helps carry the equipment over wet areas.
“What we learned about these tools was yes, they can get stuck, yes, they can have trouble in extreme mud, but because of the speed they were the one tool that guys could carry across nearly any piece of ground in the fall and get some form of tillage accomplished,” he said.
The equipment sellers said farmers also like high speed disks because they save time and time, as they say, is money.
“Often times for a farmer, time is our capital,” VanDyke said.
He said saving time also saves fuel and reduces the hours put on tractors. The high speed disks can also reduce wear and tear on other equipment. Traditionally, VanDyke said, farmers had a ripper and maybe a chisel plow and maybe a disk for the fall and a cultivator in the spring. The high speed disk can reduce the need for some of those or extend their useful life.
The high performance disks are considered a dual purpose tool that farmers can use in the spring and fall. VanDyke said the disks do a good enough job when used in the fall that farmers can direct seed soybeans right into the seedbed in the spring. If a farmer can’t get fall tillage done, he said, they could use it in the spring as a one pass tool and still make a good seed bed.
“It’s not a true no till, but it would be a minimal till,” VanDyke said. “And the seedbed is good so the planter performs well.”
Fey said the seedbed created by high speed disks can improve crop emergence.
“It makes a level seedbed for next spring when you go out there and plant with levelness and a smooth seedbed floor,” he said. “You don’t have any valleys so it’s nice and level, so your crop emerges better.”
VanDyke said the high performance disk is one of the most fun tools to take out into the field to demonstrate.
“Nobody believes it can do what it can do until all of sudden they drive it,” he said. “You get out with a shovel, pull a little loose soil back to go look at the ground underneath and all of a sudden they’re going, ‘We could plant into this couldn’t we? That’s really something.”
Fey said many farmers are also turning away from traditional disks or rippers that penetrate deeper into the ground.
“A lot of customers figure they don’t need that deep tillage any more,” Fey said. “They go to more of a reduced or minimum tillage.”
The high speed disks are promoted by the manufacturers as being able to cut, size, and mix and bury crop residue for faster breakdown, which helps improve soil quality and maximize crop yields. Fey said they allow for better water and nutrient penetration, reduce compaction, reduce erosion and increase capacity.