Producers looking for an affordable vertical tillage tool that sizes and buries residue in the fall or prepares smooth seedbeds in the spring have another option: The new Frontier VT17 Series Vertical Tillage Tool from John Deere.

The VT17 Series offers fore and aft leveling adjustments that can quickly be made using a simple crank system. Gang angles on the implement can be adjusted from zero to 12 degrees for less or more aggressive tillage. Operators can fine-tune the machine’s operating depth from zero to three inches using a pin-and-clip adjustment.

The VT17 comes with the choice of 20-inch straight or 22-inch concave blades. Each blade type is fluted for improved residue flow, sizing, and mixing, even with aggressive gang settings. The machine’s spring-adjustable rolling baskets run perpendicular to the blade direction to break up clods and improve field leveling and seedbed uniformity.

Tandem dual wheels, standard equipment on all VT17 models, are mounted on a tubular carriage frame that’s hydraulically raised and lowered. As an option, an adjustable middle breaker can be mounted between the wheels on the center frame to disrupt soil in the center-line of travel that’s left open where the front and rear gangs do not overlap.

Four sizes of VT17 Series Vertical Tillage Tools are available with working widths ranging from 10 to 15 feet. Tractor horsepower requirements range from 85 to 150 horsepower depending on the width of the model it’s paired with.

Frontier equipment is available exclusively at your local John Deere dealer. For more information, click here.

May 3, 2016, Ontario – With the recent warm weather, soil temperatures have reached 10 C, which means that now is great time to scout for wireworms and grubs. Wireworm baits will be most effective right now and grubs will also be feeding close the soil surface, according to Tracey Baute in her latest blog. | READ MORE

Mar. 31, 2016 - Much of the tracks-versus-wheels debate on farms has focused on compaction and the ability to drive in wet conditions, but what about differences in fuel consumption?

Testing done in southern Manitoba in 2015 confirmed long-standing research showing tracks require less energy to move in field conditions, dispelling a lingering misconception that implements on tracks require more horsepower to pull than wheeled units.

Research conducted near Altona — the home of track-maker Elmer's Manufacturing — found fuel savings of 11 to 15 percent when pulling a grain cart on tracks instead of wheels.

"We used a grain cart and compared wheels to tracks at the same weights. We tested on fresh tilled ground, tilled and then dried for a few days, untilled canola ground, and concrete for a reference." explains Mike Friesen, general manager and lead engineer at Elmer's.

While wheels pulled easier than tracks on concrete, there was less resistance pulling tracks in all three field scenarios.

That's because tracks "float" or stay higher on top of the soil, reducing what engineers describe as "rolling resistance." Since tires generally create deeper ruts, they have a greater rolling resistance than tracks on soft soil, as explained by researchers AJ Koolen and H Kuipers in Agricultural Soil Mechanics back in 1983.

"In plain English, the tracks don't have to continuously try to get out of the rut they are digging like the wheel does," explains Friesen.

Hartney, Manitoba farmer Tim Morden's experience pulling large capacity Bourgault cart on Elmer's TransferTracks supports the findings.

"When we had duals on the back of the cart, dirt would build up in front of the wheels and slow it down, making it hard to pull," he says. "This didn't happen with tracks."

Morden explains the biggest difference he's noticed with switching to tracks is the reduced compaction and rutting, especially in wet conditions.

"The number one fact is it doesn't really leave a rut at any time, unless it's really wet, but it's significantly less than tires," he says. "We have much more confidence on the field with the track."

The study also compared energy required to pull Elmer's large tracks versus Elmer's smaller TransferTracks, which concluded that, while both tracks pulled easier than wheels, the TransferTracks required less horsepower at weights below 35,000 lbs per wheel making it the ideal candidate for use with an air-seeder cart, small grain cart or a rolling water/fertilizer tank.

The reduced energy requirement not only results in improved fuel efficiency, but it could also allow a grower to optimize their existing horsepower in other ways, such as driving faster or pulling a wider drill with the same tractor during seeding.


June 26, 2015 - Most of Alberta received isolated rain showers over the past week, which helped previously dry areas and somewhat alleviated moisture stress. However, soil moisture conditions still remain very dry, according to the province's weekly crop report.

Surface soil moisture conditions are on par with last week despite the recent rain. Provincially, surface soil moisture conditions are rated as 30 per cent poor, 41 per cent fair, 26 per cent good and three per cent excellent. Dry spring conditions have left little soil moisture reserves, making timely rains critical to enhance crop, hay and pasture development.

Provincially, crop growing conditions did not changed significantly from last week and are rated as 18 per cent poor, 44 per cent fair, 35 per cent good and three per cent excellent. Field crops continue to be affected by the dry spring conditions.



June 15, 2015, Salford, ON - Salford isn't content to grow by acquisition. The rapidly expanding organization will launch several new products from each of its tillage, seeding and fertilizer application divisions.

The new product offerings include two new vertical tillage designs, the I-2200 and I-4200; new Flex Finish hydraulically adjustable finishing attachments for the I-Series; the new Salford Valmar 8600 Pull-Type Pneumatic Boom Applicator; and Salford BBI will introduce the Javelin and MagnaSpread Ultra spreaders to the Canadian market at the same time.



Faced with lower commodity prices, farmers are looking for any edge to improve productivity and crop performance. As the 2015 growing season gets under way, experts say one of the most effective ways to improve yield is to minimize soil compaction by using tires that can operate at a lower air pressure.

Farming equipment, including tractors, sprayers and combines, has grown larger and heavier in recent years, allowing farmers to cover more acres per day but also making soil compaction a much greater challenge.

"Lower-pressure tires produce a larger tire footprint, which distributes the weight of the machine over the largest area possible to reduce compaction," said James Crouch, farm segment marketing manager for Michelin Agriculture tires. "In addition, a larger tire footprint provides excellent traction in the field, which can improve fuel economy by reducing slippage."

Academic research has demonstrated the benefits of lower-pressure tires that provide higher flexion than standard radial agriculture tires, thus reducing soil compaction. "Topsoil compaction is caused by high contact pressure. To reduce contact pressure, a load needs to be spread out over a larger area. This can be done by reducing inflation pressure," states a Penn State University Extension report.1

Harper Adams University in the United Kingdom recently completed a three-year study involving Michelin's Ultraflex IF (Increased Flexion) and VF (Very High Flexion) tires that demonstrated a yield increase of up to four per cent compared to standard radial agriculture tires.2

Additional recommendations from Crouch and other experts to help farmers minimize soil compaction include:

• Check and maintain proper tire pressure as temperature changes throughout the growing season, particularly in the spring if new tires or equipment were purchased the previous fall or winter. Every increase of nine to 10 degrees in ambient air temperature can raise tire pressure by one psi, or lower it by that same amount as temperature decreases.

• Reduce total axle load by operating the lightest possible equipment for each application that still efficiently transfers horsepower to the ground with minimal slippage. Ensure total machine weight conforms to manufacturer specifications.

• Minimize the number of trips over the field and reduce the area of the field on which equipment is operated. Limit heavy machinery to the same lanes through the field each season. Only the controlled traffic lanes become compacted, sparing soil between the lanes.

• Use duals and large-diameter tires, since the larger surface area can help reduce tire pressure against the soil.

• When additional machine weight is needed, use cast iron ballast instead of filling tires with liquid ballast. Liquid ballast changes the flexion of the tires, resulting in a smaller footprint.

"Proper tire management and other practices can help reduce soil compaction, even though it can't be eliminated totally," Crouch said. "Protecting the soil is one of the best investments farmers can make to improve their crop performance and their bottom lines."


Nov. 25, 2014 - Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers will conduct its largest agricultural auction of 2014 on December 2 at its permanent site in Saskatoon, Sask. The auction already features close to 1,800 equipment items, including 95+ headers, 85+ combines, 85 tractors and more. Every item will be sold without minimum bids or reserve prices.

Agricultural equipment highlights in the auction include:

  • Eight John Deere S670 combines (seven 2012 models, one 2013)
  • Six John Deere S690 combines (five 2012 models, one 2013)
  • A 2014 Case IH Magnum 290 MFWD tractor
  • A 2013 Case IH 550 Quadtrac track tractor
  • A 2013 Case IH Steiger 550HD 4WD tractor
  • Seven John Deere 4940 120-ft sprayers (six 2012 models, one 2013)
  • Three unused 2013 Seed Hawk 45 Series 60-ft air drills
  • Two 2014 Case IH Titan 4530 70-ft spreaders

The December Saskatoon auction also features a great selection of construction equipment, including two Caterpillar D7R XR crawler tractors, two 2012 John Deere 350G LC hydraulic excavators, two John Deere 872GP AWD motor graders, two Caterpillar 140H VHP Plus motor graders and a 2013 John Deere 544K wheel loader. The auction will also feature automobiles, including a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro RS and a 2005 Hummer H2, pickup trucks, consumer items and more.

Consignments are still being accepted for the Saskatoon auction; anyone interested in selling their equipment can contact the auction site at 1-306-933-9333. For more information, visit



March 31, 2014 – Reinke Manufacturing Company, Inc. will soon introduce ReinSense, a soil moisture monitoring product in partnership with Irrometer Company, Inc. and iDUS Controls.

ReinSense is an in-field sensing device designed to monitor and collect underground soil moisture data through a smart radio network. Solar-powered nodes work to collect the site-specific data that is then is transferred and housed on a server, supplying the grower with real-time access to their soil moisture data through registered online or text alerts. The use of a smart radio network with ReinSense versus a cellular modem will allow growers to monitor up to 12 different soil moisture sites for only one subscription fee, according to a company press release.

Reinke is partnering with Irrometer Company based in Riverside, Calif., and intellectual property development company iDUS Controls in Victoria, B.C., for ReinSense. Irrometer Company manufactures the Watermark soil moisture probe, used with ReinSense. The product also incorporates iDUS Controls’ farm sensor management system, the SensMit Radio Node.

ReinSense will be available for purchase in the upcoming months through Reinke dealers. For more information, visit

Mar. 31, 2014 - The Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation Hydrologic Forecast Centre's second 2014 spring flood outlook suggests the potential for spring flooding is near normal in most areas of Manitoba.

The The Pas region is an exception where above-normal soil moisture and above-normal winter precipitation have resulted in the potential for greater-than-normal run-off and the potential for localized flooding. The existing flood protection is expected to be adequate for projected levels.

Run-off in most areas of the province is expected to be near normal, as soil moisture and winter precipitation are near normal. Some areas have high soil moisture but low winter precipitation, or low soil moisture and high winter precipitation.



Jan. 7, 2014 - Lemken is set to unveil the new Rubin 12 compact-disc harrow in Canada. The new harrow allows farmers to work the soil at deeper depths to incorporate heavy crop residue, according to a news release.

Designed to work at depths of 5 to 8 inches, the Rubin 12 delivers intensive, uniform mixing and crumbling in one pass – even in very heavy soil – making it an ideal primary tillage tool for corn growers in the fall.

"We also see many grain, canola, pulse, and vegetable growers across Canada dealing with more and more trash who want to work the soil deeper for better residue management. The Rubin 12 is perfectly suited to those types of operations," says LEMKEN Canadian sales manager, Laurent Letzter. "The penetration depth and large disc diameter on the Rubin 12 are also ideal for breaking pastureland," he adds.

The Rubin 12 offers 29-inch serrated discs. As well, a new Central Hydraulic Depth Adjustment allows farmers to set the working depth of the discs from their cab. The Rubin 12 combines multiple tillage functions in a single pass. An impact harrow behind the front row of discs is followed by a levelling harrow and depth guiding rollers, which pack and level the soil to help prevent erosion and moisture loss. Farmers have the option of removing the rollers if they wish.

Six Rubin 12 models will be available in Canada with delivery beginning in July 2014. The Rubin 12 is offered in widths ranging from 10 to 20 feet with a variety of hitch options including a mounted, semi-mounted and trailed version. The semi-mounted version features a Uni-wheel, which mechanically lifts the roller and reduces the weight load on the rear tractor axle when the implement is raised for easy road transport and manoeuvrability on the headlands.

Jan. 7, 2014, Langbank, SK - Seed Hawk Inc. has become the first agricultural equipment company in the world to receive Carbon Trust carbon footprint certification. Three Seed Hawk seeding systems have received the certification.

The Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) conducted the life cycle carbon footprint of the three products, and submitted the information to Carbon Trust, an international company headquartered in the UK that provides independent certification of carbon footprints. The Seed Hawk 45 & XL Series toolbars, with and without Sectional Control technology, and the 30 Series product line have received certification, which indicates how much carbon is used in the production and use of the equipment.

According to Peter Clarke, president and CEO of Seed Hawk in Langbank, Sask., with more carbon awareness and programs coming into force, knowing your carbon footprint is a good first step for producers to be in a position to capitalize on opportunities in a carbon conscious world. Clarke says that with the increased demand for environmental information from consumers, it is advantageous for the agricultural sector, including equipment producers, to provide environmental information on their products.

By now, most Canadian farmers are familiar with Tier 4 regulations, the reasons behind them and the technology involved. For us here in North America, it all began in 1996, when the U.S. government passed laws forcing off-road heavy equipment makers to gradually reduce the pollutants and particulates in engine exhaust. These laws – starting with Tier 1 and phasing through stricter and stricter Tier 2, 3 and 4 regulations throughout the years – are aimed at helping to reduce smog and acid rain, as well as associated crop damage and respiratory problems. The U.S was following Europe’s lead, where heavy equipment manufacturers were already developing emissions-reduction technologies to meet legislative changes there.

Canada got on the Tier 4 bandwagon in 1999, when the federal government passed the Off-Road Compression-Ignition Engine Emission Regulations, which fall under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. These standards were applicable to 2006-and-later diesel engines such as those found in agriculture and construction machinery.

“The standards, which are aligned with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards, were amended to include the EPA Tier 4 emission standards starting in 2012,” says Danny Kingsberry, a media relations officer at Environment Canada. “The upgrade to Tier 4 emissions standards for off-road diesel engines provides significant benefits in terms of improved air quality and reduced exposure to air pollutants and toxic substances.”

At this point, manufacturers already must meet Tier 4 Interim standards for some horsepower ranges, and must meet Tier 4 Final by Jan. 1, 2014, for equipment larger than 175 hp. They have an additional year to make sure equipment between 75 to 175 hp meets the regulations.

These are the two emissions-reduction systems being used:
  • With Cooled Exhaust Gas Recirculation (CEGR), exhaust is fed back into the combustion chamber. This reduces the formation of nitrogen oxides. A Diesel Oxidation Catalyst (DOC) and Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) are used to reduce particulates.   
  • With Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR), exhaust gases pass over a catalyst in the presence of Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF, an ammonia-and-water-based substance), and nitrogen oxides are broken down into harmless nitrogen and water.
Which technology is used generally depends on what is required of the engine and the process that the machine is intended for. CEGR is well suited to steady engine RPMs, where fairly constant exhaust temperatures aid in the reduction of particulate matter. SCR is better for engines that must meet variable demands. It provides ongoing fresh air to the engine, allowing it to run at peak performance through the full RPM range.

Tractor engines fall somewhere in between, with steady RPMs needed for jobs like spraying a uniform field but variable power demands required for other tasks. For that reason, and because the Tier 4 Final standards are so much stricter than Tier 3, some tractor manufacturers like John Deere will likely employ both CEGR and SCR for Tier 4 Final.

Roger Hoy, director at the Nebraska Tractor Test Lab (the officially designated tractor testing station for the United States), says, “Cummins has confirmed with me that they will use both.” He notes that full power can be achieved with either SCR or CEGR individually, but that CEGR uses a little more fuel.

AGCO is another company using both types of technology to meet Tier 4 Final requirements, but it is using its patented SCR with only a small amount of CEGR to ensure nitrogen oxides are reduced in the cylinder. “This combination provides our customers fuel economy benefits, lower fluid consumption (fuel and DEF), longer engine service intervals and longer engine life,” says Conor Bergin, AGCO’s product marketing manager for high-horsepower tractors.

Other tractor makers, including New Holland and Case IH, are using only SCR. Leo Bose, commercial product training manager with Case IH, says his company chose SCR over CEGR because carbon in recirculated exhaust can be deposited into engine oil, creating the possibility of wear. “Using our patented SCR system allows our high-horsepower tractors and combines to lengthen service intervals,” he says, adding that it also keeps things simpler in terms of overall design to use only one system.

Operation and maintenance
The development and physical cost of any new add-on technology such as SCR or CEGR is, of course, passed on to the customer. On the positive side, however – besides the benefit of cleaner air – there is good news in that no action is needed to manage Tier 4 technologies by the tractor operator during ongoing operation.

During ongoing CEGR operation, the DPF filter is automatically “regenerated” (the particulate matter in the filter is reduced to ash) in three ways. The emissions-reduction interface in the cab lets the operator know what’s occurring. Passive regeneration occurs during ongoing operation, and active regeneration occurs when sensors detect that particulate matter has accumulated to a certain level in the filter. Diesel fuel is injected into the exhaust to increase its temperature. Sensors also indicate when forced regeneration is required. The engine must sit idle while the engine control unit conducts a very high temperature cycle. The ash that remains is not combustible and must be cleaned out. However, regulations require that this situation occur only after at least 4,500 hours of engine use, and some manufacturers claim it need only be done once or twice in the lifetime of the tractor. Low-ash engine oil with a CJ-4 rating is a must. The only maintenance required with SCR systems is checking the DEF filter and refilling the DEF tank when needed.

Companies are touting Tier 4 tractors as the most fuel-efficient ever, but that has nothing to do with Tier 4 technologies. As Barry Nelson, John Deere’s media relations manager, agriculture and turf division, points out, Tier 4 emissions technologies consist of after-treatment exhaust systems. He says fuel efficiency gains have been made through things like electronic fuel injection, more efficient transmissions integrated with engine performance, and other cutting-edge electronic systems that adjust fuel usage according to many engine factors on a second-by-second basis.

Oct. 28, 2013, Langbank, SK – Seed Hawk is a founding sponsor of NO-TILLville, a newly-launched global forum community for farmers, researchers, agronomists and others in the agricultural community who share a desire for soil conservation through modern no-till seeding practices. NO-TILLville is a place to share ideas and experiences in a global forum with regional, national and international perspectives on no-till seeding.

"When I look back on my experiences growing up on the farm seeing the effects of soil erosion on the land, I understand how important no-till practices are in decreasing soil erosion," says Patrick Beaujot, one of the founders of Seed Hawk in Langbank, Saskatchewan. "As my parents, brother and I moved our family farm over to no-till seeding practices, we saw how productivity could be improved while increasing profitability and providing benefits to the environment."

NO-TILLville is a site where the no-till community can follow and chat with global experts and researchers in no-till, who will be blogging about current issues and trends in no-till. Users will be able to share their experiences with the global community, ask questions, and seek answers to their particular challenges in the discussion forums. The site will be set up with agronomic, equipment and regional forums initially covering Australia, Canada, the United States, Europe and Russia.

"As no-till evolved in western Canada, what I saw as an important component in moving the practice forward was the interaction of farmers, researchers, agronomists and industry in community town hall settings. That is the idea behind NO-TILLville, except in an online, easily accessible format where farmers from around the world can learn from experts and each other," says Beaujot.

NO-TILLville will officially launch to the global no-till community at Agritechnica in Hanover, Germany.

Visit NO-TILLville.

Sept. 24, 2013 - Celebrating its 33rd year, the 2014 Guelph Organic Conference and Expo includes international speakers, seminars and intro workshops on key topics including permaculture, organic production/certification, organic livestock and pasture issues, pollination and urban bees and more, all of which can help both producer and consumer.

The annual conference's theme is "Catching the Wave - Are you on board?," focuses on the organic movement and the ways individuals, customers and growers can improve their organic intake. As well, the conference and expo will also provide a marketplace where attendees can discover new products, sample delicious food and talk directly to growers, producers and retailers about the benefits of certified organic products as well as view ethical products and services. The workshops run from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2, 2014, with the expo running from Feb. 1 to 2 only.

As the Guelph Organic Conference has grown, the topics have stretched beyond the how-to of organic growing, now also encompassing a more eclectic roster of challenges focused on responsible stewardship of our soil, air and water. Once such example is an upcoming panel from Hélène St. Jacques, entitled, "Waste Not, Want Not."

With the world's population ever-increasing, there is a lot of pressure on farmers to grow more food on less land, with less available labour than ever before. But St. Jacques, chair of the Toronto Food Policy Council, prefers a different approach.

"Food waste occurs all along the value chain - from farm to fork - but the single biggest proportion, 51 per cent, occurs at the householder level," says St. Jacques, a market research consultant and an expert in solid waste management. And about one third of the waste that gets picked up at the curb each week, she says, which represents lost water for crops, soil nutrients, fuel for tractors and transport, and energy for storage and refrigeration.

Studies in Canada are still in their infancy, but to encourage dialogue, she is pulling together a panel for the upcoming 2014 Guelph Organic Conference for a "Waste Not, Want Not" workshop on Sunday, Feb. 2, with informed players from across the many sectors that play a role in our food and waste management systems.

For more information, please visit

Sept. 9, 2013, Devil's Lake, ND - Summers Manufacturing has introduced new Narrow-Transport Diamond Disks, available with 28.5-foot cutting widths. Combining high-performance residue management with the ability to fold to 15.5 feet wide for transport on narrow roads, the new models were developed to meet the tillage needs of growers everywhere.

The Diamond Disk is a proven tillage concept designed to alleviate some of the issues associated with traditional disks. The diamond configuration of the disk gangs allows the unit to float over rocks without damage, and it also eliminates ridging, skipping and gouging effects. Other features of the Diamond Disks include a floating hitch to prevent side draft and ensure consistent depth control. The units are also equipped with Super-Flex™ C-shanks and ductile cast spools to absorb shocks and maximize the service life of the implement.

The new Diamond Disks are available with two blade options, both of which are mounted on thick, 2-inch shafts. Model DK9630 comes with 26-inch-diameter full concavity blades for aggressive soil mixing, and model DT9530 comes with notched, 25-inch-diameter low concavity blades for superior residue sizing and use in wet conditions. Both models are offered with two finishing options, including three-bar mounted harrows or rolling baskets with patent-pending internal mud scrapers.

All Summers products, including the new Diamond Disks, are available at a variety of authorized dealers throughout Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. To find the nearest dealer, visit

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