1 - Hi, Craig, please, how comes the idea to make such sized harrow disc?
Previously we had produced our 32” disc harrow machines up to 12.15m cutting width, and our 28” disc harrow machines up to 19.8m. In the past, the only limitation we had was, tractors with enough horsepower were not readily available, but now the mainstream manufacturers have provided the power plants to make larger machines possible.
In more recent years most farmers in Australia have adopted GPS steering in their tractors which allows “controlled traffic” of the tractor and implements. This system reduces the compaction to a controlled portion of the land. With this many of our large acreage customers use 12m spacing.
In 2012 we had a customer enquire, for us to build a machine in our 32” disc harrow range to cover the 12m spacing, with overlap. Our previous 12.15m 32” machine was not enough, so we analysed the previous 14 year old design, integrated some improvements, and came up with a new design to cater for the 12.65m model.
2– Then, the biggest issue should be the weight of the machine. Are you using specific materials / techniques to reduce its weight?
To the contrary, we are actually using materials to increase the weight. In Australia many of the soils are extremely hard to penetrate, and in many areas the rainfall is not often enough to soften the soil long enough to work the large areas to be ploughed.
The machine was constructed from 200x100x12.5mm RHS and 200x200x16mm RHS in key strength areas. The gang hangers are 32mm in thickness, and the gang axles are 2” square. The total mass of the machine is estimated at 23-24 tons.
To help with floatation we use 8/41”x15”x19” 24 ply tyres as used on a Boeing 737 aircraft, fitted to 8 stud, 92mm 4140 stub axles. Also the main travel wheels are a load-share design which equally shares the load to all travel wheels regardless of the shape of the road.
3 – What is the normal type of customer / size farm for such implement?
In most cases this type of machine are purchased by Contractors, or very large farmers. This machine has ploughed, since its’ commission, between 9.72 – 10.94 Hectares per hour (24.02 – 27.02 Acres per hour), and in just a short 2 months of operation, of only one shift, has ploughed over 7,000 acres (2833 Hectares).
For an individual farmer to purchase one of these machines they would farm a minimum of 20,000 acres (8094 Hectares), but more typically 40,000 (16188 Hectares) acres or more.
We recently had a farmer who owns one of our 12.15m 32” machines, replace the discs. He is the largest cereal grower on the East Coast of Australia and crops between 50,000 – 100,000 acres (20,235 – 40,470 Hectares) of cereals per year. We worked out his machine has ploughed over 170,000 acres (68,800 Hectares) since 2008.
4 – Why are you using Bellota discs in your disc harrow?
Australia has the harshest farming conditions in the world, without question. The soils are typically very hard and shallow, often there is rock such as limestone or ironstone just below the soil in much of the cereal cropping areas, so the ground engaging tools must be of the highest quality possible to perform in such conditions. Also the soils are often very abrasive, so the hardness is also very important for longevity.
We used Australian made discs for our main supply, until they became no longer available in 2003. From the early 1980’s we have trialled disc harrow from many manufacturers around the world, and unfortunately the quality (strength, hardness and toughness) of discs varies considerably from one manufacturer to another. We have found there are brands of discs produced that are simply not good enough for our machines.
Since 2008 we have purchased over 20,000 disc harrow manufactured by Bellota, Legazpi ESPAÑA, with zero defects and zero complaints from our customers. This is something extremely important to us. I am so confident in the Bellota product we have our brand name stamped on the discs, something we have never done before.