High-Speed Vertical Tillage

KUHN Krause revolutionized the vertical tillage segment with the Excelerator®. This product delivers high-speed residue cutting and soil mixing that incorporates many tillage techniques in a single pass. With the exclusive Excalibur® blades and Star Wheel™ treaders, this vertical tillage system does an excellent job of downsizing clods, leveling soil, and anchoring residue, while the 24/7® soil conditioning reel finishes the seedbed preparation.

Excelerator® 8005

The 50' Excelerator® 8005 provides exceptional residue cutting, soil and residue mixing and seedbed preparation in one pass, utilizing an exclusive 4-step process.

Excelerator® XT 8010

The Excelerator® XT 8010 provides XTended versatility. True vertical tillage is maintained with the 1° to 5° gang angle, while the XTended 6° to 8° gang angle offers more aggressive tillage action.

What is Vertical Tillage?

Vertical tillage involves cutting through tough residue and the top 1-2” of soil to create a level, uniform, and shallow seedbed without inverting the soil and typically only operating as deep as seeds will be planted. Vertical tillage machines move soil on a vertical plane, allowing air and water to penetrate deeper into the soil profile without creating horizontal “smear” layers. This tillage technology promotes soil health by mixing soil and residue and improves seedbed conditions for planting, while minimizing soil erosion and the loss of valuable soil organic matter. This maintains soil health and improves root growth, nutrient availability, and overall productivity, while preparing soil for planting. 


How does Vertical Tillage Manage Residue?

Vertical tillage cuts through heavy amounts of residue creating smaller, more manageable pieces and incorporates it into the soil while leaving some residue on the surface. This tillage method creates a uniform distribution of crop residue in the field, which helps reduce the risk of soil erosion and nutrient loss. Incorporating the sized residue just below the soil surface helps maintain the residue on the field, promotes bacterial and fungal breakdown more quickly into organic matter, and releases nutrients back into the soil.

What is True Vertical Tillage?

A true vertical tillage tool like the KUHN Krause Excelerator® delivers residue cutting and soil mixing without horizontal soil movement, shearing or smearing the critical zone for seed placement and young seedling root development. These machines feature very shallow- concavity blades and parallel gangs as compared to a conventional disc with concave blades and gang angles 10 degrees or more. True vertical tillage machines feature a gang angle of 0 – 5 degrees with blades that have no- or shallow-concavity. VT blades, unlike concave blades, retain a sharp edge over time and do not contribute to compaction. 

Benefits/Advantages of Vertical Tillage?

Vertical tillage systems offer many agronomic benefits over conventional tillage methods including soil health, crop residue management, fuel, and labor savings. Vertical tillage improves water infiltration, promotes rapid residue breakdown and nutrient release. It can be performed more quickly than traditional tillage, requiring less horsepower, fuel and labor resulting in cost and labor savings. It is considered a conservation practice reducing environmental impact and preserving soil health. 

When Should Vertical Tillage be Considered?

Timing is dependent upon your specific operation needs and field conditions. Vertical tillage can be integrated into the crop management plan in spring or fall. After harvest, vertical tillage cuts and tucks the remaining, valuable crop residue into the soil to help reduce erosion and promote nutrient breakdown. Prior to planting, vertical tillage can be used to level the soil and reduce clod size promoting even emergence for the new crop. Vertical tillage may also be used to prepare and seed a field with cover crops. 

Is Vertical Tillage better than No-Till?

No-till farming leaves the soil undisturbed, and crops are planted directly into the previous year’s crop residue. While it may reduce soil erosion and improve soil health, it is less effective at managing crop residue and creating a uniform, shallow seedbed which could result in slow or uneven emergence of the new crop due to inconsistent soil moisture and temperature. Additionally, no-till may require specialized planting equipment and increased use of herbicides. Some farmers find a combination of vertical tillage and in-line rippers work best for managing soil compaction while maintaining vertical tillage practices.

Is Vertical Tillage Right for You? 

Determining whether VT is right for your operation will depend on several factors, including your soil type, crops, and the equipment that you have available. If you are looking to better manage crop residue and prepare a smooth level seedbed without inverting or disturbing the soil layers, improve soil structure, promote better root growth and nutrient uptake vertical tillage might be a good practice for you. For some operations, producers find adding an in-line ripper works best for managing soil compaction layers while maintaining the many benefits of vertical tillage and tillage performance.

How Much Horsepower is Required for Vertical Tillage?

The amount of horsepower required is dependent on several factors including the size and weight of the equipment, the depth and speed of the tillage operation, and the soil conditions. Larger and heavier vertical tillage machines require more horsepower than smaller machines, speed and depth also play a role. True vertical tillage equipment requires about 8 - 12 hp per foot of working width to operate at 8-10 miles an hour running about 2" deep. 


What is the Best Vertical Tillage Tool?

Determining the best vertical tillage tool for your operation depends on your goals and practices, but a few key points should be considered. The vertical tillage implement should be matched for your operation based on acres/hour, not width of equipment. This will optimize productivity, horsepower and costs. Machine performance should be ensured for soil penetration by the blades to effectively cut residue and mix with the soil to promote residue breakdown and a uniform seedbed. Also, flexibility and versatility should be considered in the machine. It should have the ability to perform in a variety of field conditions (spring or fall); performing in wet soil conditions as well as dry and have the ability to create a high-quality seedbed.

What Features Should I Look for When Considering a Vertical Tillage Machine?

Key features for optimal performance should be considered before purchasing a VT machine. Look for blades that maintain a sharp edge through their performance life (like the Excalibur® VT blade). Adjustable hydraulic gang angles between 0-9 degrees are beneficial for providing flexibility of operation for varying conditions. Distance between blade gangs front to rear are important for maintaining uniform soil flow in wet or dry conditions. For the finishing harrow, rolling attachments are preferred (like the Star Wheel® technology) to incorporate and anchor residue while leveling the soil for planting with a soil conditioning basket. Overall machine adjustment with single-point depth control, hydraulic wing pressure systems and hydraulic finishing attachments will enhance tillage performance and operator comfort.

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