As told by Anne Marie Joubert, Northern Cape, South Africa

In 2012, George Wheeler of the GWK Douglas branch in the Northern Cape of South Africa and some of the prominent farmers in the district gathered around a kitchen table to discuss solutions to tillage problems.

They realized they couldn’t continue to do things the same way their fathers did 15 years ago while maintaining profitability and sustainability. That meant trimming input costs and protecting the soil.

Their starting point was the John Deere 1750 planter, used by almost every farmer in the area. Instead of buying a costly replacement, the farmers decided to look for a way to add to what they already had. Deere’s local representatives started looking for a solution and found an answer in the High Plains of eastern Colorado and western Nebraska. 

Like the Northern Cape farmers, High Plains farmers are also subject to water issues, windy conditions, sandy soils, and a need for conservation tillage and labor-saving technology. The American farmers used a combination of the XDR Combo planter, Deere’s tractor and planter technology, and Orthman’s strip-tillage solutions to prepare the soil and plant in one pass.

At a farmers’ day on the Cilliers brothers farm between Douglas and Prieska in South Africa, the XDR Combo, the Orthman 1tRIPr and John Deere 1750 planter with an adjusted frame was put to the test. The unit was demonstrated on land covered with slightly moist barley residue under typical area conditions.

Immediately after cutting and baling barley or harvesting wheat, the brothers plant corn into the thick, wet plant material. There’s too much plant material left to work it all into the soil as part of a no-till system. If left on the ground, the wind blows most of the residue away, and the soil dries out. They also wanted to avoid burning the residue.

Strip-till provided the logical solution. The 1tRIPr removes the residue in the row area, while still leaving residue between the rows to conserve moisture. The Cilliers had previously used an Orthman 1tRipr, but they planted in a separate trip. The saving in fuel and time makes the combination worthwhile, with the added benefit of fewer trips and less soil compaction. The system has proven ideal with their soils and irrigated farming. 

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