Combination Disc Rippers

KUHN Krause combination disc rippers set new standards for residue management, compaction removal and residue mixing in one pass. This leads to faster decomposition of tough crop residue, improved crop root development and increased yields, while decreasing operational costs.

Dominator® 4857

Residue management, soil tilth and level soil surface area are all key factors in yield potential. The Dominator 4857 meets this challenge and outperforms competitive tools. Working widths range from 10’6” to 19’6”.

Dominator® 4861

The Dominator 4861 was developed with 24" shank spacing to promote subsoil maintenance, while providing increased working widths and operator productivity. RTK working widths range from 14’ to 26’.

What is a disc ripper? 

A disc ripper is a tillage tool that accomplishes several operations in a single pass, saving time, manpower and investments in separate tillage tools to accomplish the task. The machine is generally used to perform primary tillage after fall harvest. The goal is to manage residue, reduce compaction and level the soil profile to ready the field for a spring tillage pass with secondary or vertical tillage equipment. At the front of the machine, coulters or disc gangs size the crop residue for improved incorporation and flow through the machine. These are followed by deep ripping shanks, usually mounted to the mainframe in a staggered fashion for better residue and soil flow. The shanks are equipped with points, some with wings to break up compacted layers of soil even more aggressively. Disc conditioners typically handle the task of residue sizing, leveling, and mixing the residue into the soil profile. Additional clod sizing and a level soil profile is accomplished with rolling baskets or reels allowing for a uniform field finish. 


How does a combination ripper fight soil compaction?

The ripper shanks and points break up the compacted layer at the bottom of the soil profile. The points used and the spacing of the shanks determine the extent or completeness of compaction removal as well as the frequency of the operation. In most areas of the corn belt the shanks are set on a 24” spacing as this is generally going to remove enough compaction to maintain a healthy soil structure growing corn and soybeans, but there are narrower spaced machines for difficult soil conditions or specialty crops that require more compaction removal. Some operations maintain healthy soils by running their machines over a 1/3 of their acres every year, others will cover 1/2 of the farm every year depending on crops grown and soil conditions. Still other operations attempt to rip all their acres if time in the fall allows before the freeze sets in. By removing compaction, the overall health of the soil is improved by allowing for better air and water infiltration into the soil as well as creating root paths due to the decrease in resistance. An additional benefit is the overall increase in water holding capacity for the entire field which helps plants thrive longer during dry parts of the growing season.

How deep to disc rip?

There is only one way to determine the best working depth, you must determine where the compaction exists. This can be done in two ways. If you have a lot of experience a penetrometer can help identify layers of compaction, however it is usually more reliable to dig a hole with a spade and find the layer or layers of compaction with a pocketknife.  This should be done in several areas in the field to reliably identify the compaction layer. Usually that layer is in the 8” to 13” range, but that varies depending on farming practices, soil types, and regional influences.  The point and wing (if equipped) should be run 1” under the compacted layer for the maximum fracture and lifting of the soil above it. A common misconception is to rip as deep as you can pull the machine. Running deeper only cuts a small slot through the compacted layer and you are not getting the full benefit of the point and/or wing. It also causes premature wear of the side of the shank as it is pinched in the compacted layer.

What are the advantages of using a disc ripper for tillage?

A disc ripper allows you to accomplish several agronomic goals in a single pass saving time and money. Residue sizing and burial is essential with today’s tough GMO stalks. Thoroughly mixing the soil and residue ensures the microbes and bacteria decompose the residue so the nutrients are fixed back into the soil profile and are not hindering seed to soil contact during planting the following spring season.  Addressing compaction is also very important in crop health as the plants need to be able to reach vital nutrients, water and air for optimum growth and yields.  As the soil and residue pass through the machine, clods are broken up and the soil is leveled into a condition that typically requires only one pass in the spring to be ready to plant. This saves time, fuel, labor, and capital investment all while improving soil health, increasing yield and profit, maximizing the ROI for the farm.

How does a disc ripper compare to an in-line ripper?

A disc ripper provides aggressive residue and soil mixing while accomplishing compaction removal in a mulch tillage environment. The shanks are generally configured in a staggered pattern for better soil and residue flow. The compaction reduction is much greater since the shank spacing is 24” or even 18” on some models of combination rippers. They also usually include finishing attachments that result in a smooth level seedbed ready for the drill or planter.

Generally, an in-line ripper is used in a no-till or minimum tillage environment where it is desirable to maintain the maximum surface residue possible to help reduce surface erosion caused by rain or wind. Other reasons to maintain residue may be government mandated or voluntary participation in a conservation program. Compaction removal is less aggressive due to the spacing but is maximized by running the shanks side by side to help achieve sufficient compaction reduction by lifting the soil all at one time. The shank spacing is also wider ranging from 40” down to 30”, with 30” spacing being the most common in the U.S. In some cases where more residue incorporation is desired, MRD and parabolic shanks are available as well to customize the amount of tillage required to accomplish the task.

Disc Ripper vs In-Line Ripper

How many shanks does a combination disc ripper have?

Combination rippers are available from 7 shanks for smaller operations that use row crop tractors to large 13-shank units for optimal productivity using high horsepower articulated and tracked tractors. There are usually two shank spacings available, 24” shank spacing is generally ran in lighter loamy soils that break up easily while the 18" shank spacing is ran in tough tight clay soils that generally have more compaction issues. Winged 7” points are used for maximum compaction removal, but 2 ½” straight points can be utilized to reduce draft or in areas that have less compaction concerns.   

What is the best disc ripper?

The best disk ripper for your operation is the one that matches your agronomic goals for your farm. Do you need maximum fracture and intense incorporation of manure, residue, and nutrients? If so, it would be wise to consider a machine with 18” shank spacing like the Dominator® 4857. Are your soils already in good shape but you want to maintain that ideal soil tilth? In that case a 24” shank spacing machine like the Dominator 4861 might be the perfect match. Variables such as conditions or engine requirements dictate which points are the most desirable, a 7” wing point or a 2 ½” straight point. Both Dominator models are equipped with single point hydraulic depth control, a convenient performance feature. This lets you easily change the depth of your shanks instead of having to change the position of the shanks some competitors use. In either case, an easily adjustable disc conditioner is desirable for changing field conditions and variable soil types. You may want the disc conditioner set in an aggressive manner in heavy clay soils for maximum soil and residue mixing and then change it later that same day to a less aggressive setting for a field that has a light soil type that you would like to leave a little more residue on the surface for erosion control. Most competitive combination rippers feature tandem disc blades at the front of the machine for residue sizing and incorporation, then shanks in the middle for compaction removal followed by closing discs to cover the shank path and level and then reel to further level the soil and clod size. Dominators are unique in the disc ripper category, they feature a gang of coulters engaged with active hydraulic down pressure to cut and size residue, followed by the ripper or chisel shanks to alleviate compaction and then a reverse tandem design disc conditioner to mix and incorporate residue deep into the soil profile while leveling as well. This is followed by a reel to size clods and firm the soil. These reels can be equipped with an optional hydraulic reel lift for less-than-ideal conditions when reels may need to be raised out of the ground to avoid plugging.

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