|“ SAM’s operation is so precise you couldn’t upset it even under the influence, says Lindsay Mclachlan. “|
Once the two metre wide raised bed is formed all the proceeding passes are absolutely accurate. A triple bedformer can work at 4.8 ha an hour, including deep ripping the bed surface and compacting the beds to suit individual soil types.
The second phase of the raised bed concept is bedlocking. The bedlocker is a universal toolbar, which fits between the tractor and the implement. The raised bed acts like a railway track as the front of the toolbar locks onto the bed, and the bedlocker skis at the rear direct the implement with an accuracy of within millimetres. An isolating deck keeps the unit independent of the main frame for accurate depth control and with every pass it reforms and consolidates the depth control.
Precision drilling into the raised beds becomes an easy operation and another advantage of the bedlocker is that a spray unit can be used to precision spray the crop.
The power weeder is the heart of the raised bed management system. It is designed to eliminate most of the labour associated with weed control and the use of expensive chemicals.
The crank mechanism is the secret, allowing a weeding operation much like a garden hoe, weeding the wall of the bed and chipping under the crown of the weed with minimal soil disturbance. The power weeder is height and width adjustable and intended for all soil conditions.
As the skis lock onto the bed shape they are prevented from clogging with soil by their Teflon coating and two more skis ride the contour of the bed top and control the depth of the knives.
Outside traditional cropping areas, in Australia, periodic waterlogging in higher rainfall districts has been a problem for cereal crop farmers. But with SAM high rainfall can now be considered a benefit. Raised beds can cope with heavy rainfall as the depth of soil is doubled and better drainage is achieved.
In Victoria and Tasmania in three years 20,000 ha has been laid out in raised beds. The technology is fast catching on in South Australia, Western Australia and New South Wales. In New Zealand, raised beds will give better utilisation of irrigation water, Says Lindsay.
“Sandy soil tends to seal on the surface of our properties. The raised beds will give better water penetration. The new machinery leaves soil very evenly compacted, generating big strong healthy plants and even growth patterns.”
The soil at the bottom of the furrows can be three to five degrees cooler than the raised beds, intensifying growth and producing greater harvests. There are all sorts of possibilities as farmers can bring in land formerly unsuitable for cropping, consider options for second crops and diversify their operation.
Another advantage of the innovative SAM system is that it’s all mechanical and easy to use.