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Better Plow Means Higher Ag Profits
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- An improved plow that reduces soil surface disturbance is causing a stir in farming circles.
Dr. Gordon Tupper, an agricultural engineer at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, recently redesigned the low-till parabolic subsoiler he invented in 1972. Shaped like a deep-curved U, this parabolic subsoiler can increase cotton profits by nearly $33 an acre.
"Properly using this subsoiler on just a portion of the state's 1 million acres of cotton has the potential to increase profits by several million dollars a year," Tupper said.
"With this low-till subsoiler, we have reduced the power requirement and reduced soil surface disturbance," Tupper said.
The shape of the subsoiler allows it to be pulled one to two gears faster than other subsoilers. The foot breaks up the hardpan as it moves through the ground about 16 inches deep. The shank leans out at 28 degrees and moves soil clods aside rather than pushing them to the surface.
"We're trying to break up the ground without much surface disturbance and leave vegetation in place to reduce soil erosion," Tupper said.
Tractors can pull the parabolic subsoiler 11 percent faster than its closest competitor. Its design reduced power requirements by about 15 percent over the old design, which was 30 percent more efficient than its competitors.
The low-till parabolic subsoiler can be used for many crops but mainly for cotton.
"Cotton has a tap root and is a very sparse root crop, while most other crops have more fibrous root systems," Tupper said. "Because of this, cotton responds well to subsoiling on many Delta soils."
Along with the new design are new use recommendations determined after a three-year test on two soil types.
"So far we've found it works best to run the subsoiler across the field at a 45 degree angle in the fall, and then to subsoil in the row direction in the spring," Tupper said.
To date, at least five companies have commercially produced this redesigned low-till parabolic subsoiler and more than 200 are in use. The old design, made by 45 companies worldwide, revolutionized deep tillage.
Recent design work on the parabolic subsoiler includes deep application of fertilizer along with the subsoiling.