May 20, 2009
Peacemeal Farm, Dixmont, Maine
Peas are nearly ready for trellising at Peacemeal, and thus the last opportunity for cultivating. The disk hillers were quite simple to attach to the tool bar, and relatively simple to adjust. We found the pushing bar/handle adjustment to have a noticable affect on the aggressivity of the disks. If the handle was low for a shorter operator, the frame was not horizontal to the ground, and the disks moved less soil. We adjusted the handle lower to ensure the tool bars were parallel to the soil surface, and the disks were more aggressive.
A brief video clip of the disk hillers in action has been posted to YouTube:
Overall the disk hillers were quite impressive. Conditions were optimal, including the fact that Tim had “Pigged” the inter-row space the day before, leaving loose soil easily moved by the disks.
The disks rolled over coarse residues in the field; efficacy was likely reduced in these areas, but the unit rolled on. Performance was best on the flatter, more uniform beds, with increasing inconsistency in places where peas were on the edge of a ridge or other irregular soil feature.
Most observing the field following hilling were impressed. Mike’s first comment was “Fantastic.” I think we were all impressed with the consistency of the action of the disks. Each pass of the 277 ft. bed took 2 min. 30 sec. The disks were relatively easy to control at a comfortable walking pace, simply by focusing on the area where the disks attached to the tool bar, and ensuring that the crop row was centered here enabled a good working speed. In places where the crop was short it was possible to slow considerably to reduce soil movement into the row.
As in the previous trials we conducted pre-cultivation weed censuses. Post-cultivation censuses were conducted Friday, 22 May. Counts were made in 15 quadrats, and by subtracting the number surviving from the starting number we calculate efficacy, i.e., proportion of weeds killed, which can range from zero, no weeds killed, to 1.0, all killed. Mean efficacy of the disk hillers was 0.59, ranging from 0.32 to 0.86. We did not separate our censuses to distinguish the intra-row region from the inter-row (between rows), but the lower efficacy values likely reflect areas where weeds were outsize the zone of working for the disks.