One of the definitions of agriculture as stated by Webster’s dictionary is it “includes the cultivation of the soil for growing crops.” Soil plays a very important part in agriculture, so agriculturalists need to make sure it has the proper amount of nutrients to produce and sustain a good crop. However, sometimes where people choose to farm, the soil is not exactly in the ideal condition.
Peter Martens had such a problem. Martens and his wife, Hanna, run a farm and custom operator business in upstate New York. Martens farms in Penn Yan which is located right by Keuka Lake. Keuka Lake is one of the glacial Finger Lakes and the also one of the deepest within the state. Due to the lake being so close to Martens’ operation, there is a lot of glacial till and heavily eroded soils along with clay subsoils in the area.
This proved to be a problem for Martens who has been farming in the area since 2006, but in 2011 he seemed to find a solution.
“I went to Germany for an internship for a year and that’s where I ran into rotary cultivators (power harrows). At the time, we were in far northern Germany. The area had a lot of heavy clay. Incidentally, that was the kind of ground we had back home on the farm,” explained Martens, “The machine the farmers were using in the field worked really well on that type of ground.”
After learning more about the machine, Martens purchased a used competing model and brought it back with him from Germany. After three years of use, the old machine gave out and Martens had to look for a new machine to work the land like he wanted.
“I looked around for a replacement quite a bit, but I found the features and dealer support I was looking for with our local KUHN dealer,” said Martens.
Martens’ KUHN dealer is, LandPro Equipment, LLC; headquartered in Falconer, New York (recently merged Zahm & Matson, Inc. and Lakeland Equipment Corp.). This machine was a joint learning experience for Martens and his dealer.
“The salesman had never seen one of these machines before when we bought it, but he is very interested and paying attention to what we are doing with it,” explained Martens in regard to his KUHN HR 4504 power harrow.
Martens farms a wide variety of crops including, but not limited to corn, soybeans, barley, pinto beans, triticale, soft white and hard red wheat and spelt. Spelt is Martens biggest single crop that he farms (Editor’s Note: Spelt is a relative of wheat that still has an attached hull at harvest.).
With such a variety of crops to harvest, Martens began using the power harrow right away in the spring of 2015. That was almost two years ago now and Martens has taken note of the many benefits of having a KUHN power harrow on his operation.
One of Martens first observations after he began using his KUHN power harrow was how it prepared the soil.
“We’ve been able to do an optimum job of soil preparation a higher percentage of the time because our rotary cultivator (power harrow) allows us to work the ground without losing as much moisture as you have to lose to use a disc effectively,” stated Martens.
Optimum seedbed preparation is critical for consistent germination and crop development. The crumbling, leveling and packing work of KUHN harrows helps maximize the productivity of the crops. However, this was not the only benefit Martens’ witnessed as he continued to use the machine.
“The cost of operation is lower. The wear parts and tines are much less expensive on the KUHN than they were on the competing model. The KUHN is just a more robust and durable machine,” Martens explained.
KUHN power harrows are extremely durable as they adapt to any environment they are in. The wide choice of blades, rollers and wide range of gears available for the gearbox give an operator a wide variety of options to equip their machine with. In regard to money, Martens’ cost savings has been significant since he began using the machine.
Martens has built a corn planter and grill drill that mount on the optional heavy-duty 3 point hitch on the back of the power harrow too. This has contributed to both the cost savings and labor savings on his operation.
“We’ve been able to cut our fuel costs down. Instead of making a minimum of two secondary tillage passes, if we have some tough spots in the field we slow the travel speed and let it grind on the ground a little. We’re able to plant corn, soybeans and kidney beans between plowing. We moldboard plow everything which is a fuel intensive process,” explained Martens.
The cost savings have been a great benefit for Martens, but the labor savings have been extremely noticeable as well.
“We now have fewer labor requirements thanks to the rotary cultivator (power harrow). The labor hours per acre are down. We had an individual retire from our operation and we didn’t have to replace him since we don’t have as many labor hours per acre.” said Martens.
As Martens went onto further explain this cost savings is a function of having the planter coupled directly to the rotary cultivator (power harrow) that is not an option with more conventional tillage systems. Still on any operation saving time and money is extremely important. This gets any farmer out of the field a little faster giving him or her more time to get other important tasks done.
With all these terrific features and benefits, Martens gives a strong recommendation to this piece of KUHN equipment. Martens also feels this machine would be highly valuable to a lot of producers especially those who farm vegetable and specialty crops.
“I definitely would recommend KUHN equipment. Specifically this rotary cultivator (power harrow) for its reduction in labor, ability to do a better job preparing the ground and for it being a tough machine that does not give you any trouble.”