Friday, December 6, 2013

Advantages of No-Till Planting

Farming without plowing might sound as efficient as cutting down a tree with a butter knife. However, as many in the agricultural business know, there are some distinct advantages to no-till planting and farming that not only provide environmental benefits, but monetary benefits as well. What are the advantages to setting conventional tillage tools aside and using the no-till method for crop production? 

Environmental benefits

Recent movements toward sustainable farming have made no-tillage more notorious. One of the most frequently-touted benefits to this practice is that it increases soil quality by encouraging a substrate ecosystem of micro- and macro-organisms. Microbes, insects, and earthworms are all part of the soil biota; these organisms break down the field's refuse plant materials into organic matter, which means that nutrients become available for uptake by a new crop of plants. Traditional tilling disturbs and destroys these beneficial beasts, as well as other wildlife habitats, such as ground-nesting birds and underground mammal dens.

Another primary environmental advantage to no-till is that because the soil is not disturbed, its structure and moisture level is more stable. Because carbon-based plant matter binds soil particles together, the undisturbed, organic-rich soil is less likely to blow away in strong winds or to erode during heavy rains. Aside from erosion resistance, undisturbed soil also retains more water. Tilling causes water to evaporate much more quickly by exposing soil to air during each each pass of the plow. With less evaporation, also aided by surface detritus coverage, crops have access to more water at the surface, and their roots can penetrate deeper into the soft earth, accessing even more available water.

Financial benefits

During the transition from plow to pasture cropping, farmers can begin by trading in large, heavy tractors and plows for more light-weight machinery and a seed drill. With increasing gas prices, an immediate reduction in fossil fuel usage also means a significant cost reduction. Many no-till farmers find that their costs are greatly reduced over the long term, too, from using lighter machinery and not cutting up the soil as much, meaning they have to replace disc blades and other components less often. Irrigation may be decreased or cut out completely, depending on the type of soil and land being farmed. Instead of plowing to control weeds, no-till farmers practice extensive crop rotation or grow cover crops to discourage undesirable plant growth. Crop rotation also has the benefit of rejuvenating and mixing soil, and it can even aid in reducing dependency on chemical pesticides by encouraging predation. Organic farmers often use a combination of crop rotation, cover crops, and the "cardboard method." By placing undyed, corrugated cardboard atop a field or garden, moisture is retained and underlying organic matter decomposes quickly via soil biota. At the same time, the cardboard layer discourages weed growth; all this in turn, leads to a rich layer of top soil in only a few successive seasons.

Revisions to management

While there are many potential benefits to no-till, the effectiveness of each depends upon the farmer and the farmland. No two fields are exactly alike, so it stands to reason that a single method of farming isn't applicable to every case. For example, in cold, wet areas, strip-tilling may be preferred or combined with no-till to dry and heat the soil sufficiently. Farmers should consider the crops being planted, the soil, the lay and location of the land, and their own ability to monitor and adjust their approach. The farmer-cum-agroecologist (or vice versa) should always consider the best ways to increase crop productivity and land sustainability at the same time, and to consider the long-term, beneficial effects on their own lifestyle and that of the community.

If you’re interested in no-till farming, Wearparts LLC carries a full line of components for no-till farming including no-till disc openers and seed drills. Visit us at or call us at 1-888-4-BLADES for more information on how we can help you get everything needed for your agricultural operations.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Boron Steel Disc Blades

For decades, agricultural equipment has relied on conventional steel for use in disc blades and other components; and with good reason – just about every piece of machinery in the world relies on steel for its construction, from cars to buildings. However, engineers and professionals are always looking for ways to improve and make products even more efficient – which is why boron steel has become more and more popular among those looking for replacement disc blades and tillage tools.

Boron steel first became popular as a component in automobile construction. The hardness of steel is affected by carbon content – with denser steel containing more carbon. Car manufacturers want to provide safety and quality in construction – but denser steel also means weighing down their cars, making them less efficient.

Engineers found that Boron was an incredibly effective way of increasing the hardness of steel, without adding extra weight. Boron steel could be made harder than conventional steel, allowing it to last longer and have more resilience. This hardness translates perfectly to the needs and uses of disc blades.

Boron steel disc blades offer superior hardness to conventional steel disc blades. What does that mean for tillage tools? Disc blades containing boron steel are able to more effectively cut through packed soils because they are so much more dense – making for more effective plowing and planting. The extra hardness in boron steel also means that these blades last longer and are less resistant to warping or cracking; and keep their edge for longer.

When first introduced, boron steel was a concern as it couldn’t be made as sharp as conventional steel, and it was difficult to roll an edge onto these blades, but modern technology and methods have allowed boron steel blades to be just as sharp as their conventional steel cousins. 

At Wearparts LLC, we specialize in replacement disc blades designed to fit a variety of tillage equipment from the leading brands including John Deere, Rome, Case IH and Sunflower. Disc bladesis the primary focus of our line of tillage tools – we not only offer disc blades in a variety of sizes and concavities, but also custom disc blade fabrication services. Call us at 1-888-4-BLADES to learn more.