Turning Unwanted Discs Into A No-Till Asset

A Kansas farmer invented a five-sided, vertical-tillage blade that he says puts crop residue in touch with soil microbes but still protects the benefits of no-till.

When Henry Falk was growing up on his farm, if a piece of machinery — new or used — wasn’t doing the job, his father would haul it to his shop and rebuild it with a torch and welder to make it work better.

So it’s no surprise that Falk used this same problem-solving approach to address a more modern-day challenge: managing high levels of residue on his no-till farm near Effingham, Kan.

‘Tickling’ The Soil. Falk, who no-tills corn and soybeans on 700 acres in north-central Kansas, invented the Spading Vertical Tillage Disc Blade and sells it through Vertical-Till Farms LLC.

The five-sided, Pentagon-shaped blade can be outfitted for Case IH, John Deere and other discs with a square shaft through the disc gang.

A manufacturer makes the patented blades for Falk’s use, or to sell to interested farmers who have been calling Falk from 18 different states.

Falks says the 22-inch blades, with 2½-inch concavity, only “tickle” the soil surface as they put crop residue in touch with the soil for faster decomposition.

Falk estimates there are 33 manufacturers who are making and selling vertical-tillage tools, but he maintains his blades are among the most unique.

“That flat part of the blade will push residue to the soil surface, and the points go into the soil at about 2 inches or less to mix soil with the residue,” Falk says.

Falk adds the cavities made by the blades reduce erosion, boost water infiltration and can remove combine and…

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John dobberstein2

John Dobberstein

John Dobberstein was senior editor of No-Till Farmer magazine and the e-newsletter Dryland No-TillerHe previously covered agriculture for the Tulsa World and worked for daily newspapers in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Joseph, Mich. He graduated with a B.A. in journalism and political science from Central Michigan University.

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