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Priming the plough for effective autumn work

Ploughing remains an important primary autumn cultivation on many farms, and in particular has a vital role in grass weed control. However, best results are only achieved if equipment is set up correctly, as Kuhn Farm Machinery’s David Rose explains.

Choice of mouldboard is the first consideration. There are three main formats according to Kuhn – standard, wider and slatted. All modern mouldboard designs are capable of producing good quality work and will effectively bury seeds when the plough is set correctly, so this is mainly about matching the mouldboard to your likely conditions.

“A slatted board is more suited to ‘sticky’ and peat soils,” says David. “This will produce a more broken finish compared with a full board. Otherwise choose the mouldboards to suit the tractor – with the wider ones for bigger tyres,” he says.


Correct plough set-up is essential to ensure best results according to David Rose.

Good maintenance begins at the end of the previous season, protecting the mouldboards and lubricating all the main components. This is to ensure that they don’t seize-up during storage and can still be used to make the necessary adjustments. Similarly wearing metal needs to be replaced, not only to protect the plough’s structure, but also to ensure it works well – new points, for example, help it to penetrate.

“Then look at the manual and check out what adjustments can be made in the yard. On Kuhn ploughs it’s possible to pre-set the correct beam alignment to the tractor’s track width. There are measurements on the beam that correspond with the width between the inner tyre walls.”

The tractor lift rods on the linkage arms should be set to the same height; and adjust the check-chains to provide about 50-75mm of movement, so the plough finds its own line in the ground.

Correct plough set-up can help to control weeds.

When adjusting the plough on the tractor, consider it as being set in a square, looking from the back, and a rectangle from the side, suggests David Rose. “Looking from the rear, the plough should be upright and at 90° to the ground. From the side, the beam should be parallel to the ground, so it’s at the same depth from front to back.”

Another key setting is the front furrow width. Once this has been set for the plough and tractor’s track width it’s not usually necessary to change it again. If it’s too wide or narrow, it’ll result in uneven work, which is easy to spot from the discernible bout patterns and, sometimes, tufts of trash between each set of furrows.

Working depth is set on the tractor’s link arms and the rear depth wheel – the aim is to adjust these to keep the plough horizontal across its length. “On a tractor with lower-link sensing, the top link should be fitted into the elongated hole. Use the fixed hole on, usually, older tractors with top-link sensing.

“A good indicator that the plough is set up correctly is that the top link is pulling straight. If the plough ‘crabs’ to one side then some basics need checking - for example incorrect alignment to wheel track width,” he adds.

The need to bury the weed seeds calls for careful attention to the skim coulter settings. These should be set to cut 50mm deep. “The idea is to cut a clean slice off the top corner of the furrow as it is turning and deposit this in the furrow bottom, with the furrow landing on top. It’s important not to take off too much soil, so the furrow closes over the top,” says David Rose. “Speed of operation is crucial: it needs to be maintained just right so there is a smooth flow of residue into the furrow bottom, and to allow the furrow to fold over on top and not break up. Remember, this is the only tool available to create a completely clean start.”

Before starting work, however, it’s important to mark out the field, he concludes. “This keeps the ‘ins and outs’ even around the headland and results in a better, neat and tidy job. Make the headland wide enough to easily carry out a full turn, but be careful the last run around the field doesn’t end up with the finish in the tramline wheel mark.”

KUHN ploughs are available with a range of different mouldboards.


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KUHN FARM MACHINERY (UK) LTD STAFFORD PARK 7 GB TELFORD/SHROPS TF3 3BQ-Phone: 01952 / 239300-Fax: 01952 / 290091