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Ploughing systems

A plough which is not properly set will need extra power to pull it through the ground. This is a waste of time, fuel and money. Always make sure that:

1. The plough is properly attached.

2. The tractor wheels are at a suitable track setting for the furrow width.

3. The pitch adjustment is correct.

4. The mouldboards are parallel to each other. The mouldboard stays can be adjusted to rectify any fault in alignment.

5. The shares are in good condition.

6. The discs and skimmers are set deep enough to do their work, but not too deep.

7. The plough is suitable for the tractor and does not have more furrows than the tractor can pull with minimal wheelslip.

Reversible Ploughing.Reversible ploughs are used almost with. exception on British farms. However, scr­amble farmers use one of the various types minimal cultivation techniques instead of plough.

To ensure neat and accurate headlands the first task is to turn a shallow marking furrow each end of the field. These furrows serve as a guide to raise and lower the plough at the start and finish of each pass. Some farmers plough headland furrow all round the field. In either case the marking furrows make it easier plough neat headlands. The distance from edge of the field to the headland furrow will depend on the number of plough bodies. A three-furrow plough needs at least 9 m and one with five furrows requires a headland at least 12 m wide. Even wider headlands will reduce wear and tear on the tractor. Larger ploughs require a wider headland.

It is best to plough the field longways: this reduces the number of headland turns needed.. Start at one side of the field and turn son-shallow furrows away from the hedge to disturb the vegetation. Then plough in the opposite direction to return the loosened soil back towards the field edge. Continue ploughing across the field and then plough the headlands to complete the job.

Conventional Ploughing.Ploughing with right-handed convention: ploughs is now almost entirely confined to ploughing matches and the occasional small field in livestock farming areas. Conventional ploughing can be done systematicallv sections or lands or by ploughing round and round the field.

Systematic ploughing.The first task is to plough a shallow headland marking furrow all round the field leaving an 8 m headland for a three-furrow plough. The field is then divided into sections or lands with shallow marking furrows, which are also the first furrows of the opening ridges. After making the ridges the land is ploughed alternately round and round the first ridge (gathering) and then between two neighbouring ridges (casting). This system reduces idle running on the headland to a minimum. When the unploughed land between each ridge is reduced to a few furrow widths the plough must be reset before ploughing the finishes which leave shallow open furrows. With the field completed the headlands are ploughed round and round in alternate years towards and then away from the hedge.

Round and round ploughing.Although rarely done, round-and-round ploughing will provide a level surface with few furrows. The field can be ploughed either from the middle outwards or from the headlands to the centre.

When ploughing outwards, the centre of the fields must be found. To do this, a man walks round the outside of the fields holding a cord, tied to the tractor. The driver keeps the cord taut, making a shallow marking furrow as he drives round the field. The helper next walks round the marking furrow, and the tractor driver makes another marking furrow nearer the centre of the field. This process continues until a small replace of the field shape is left in the centre. This is ploughed first, round a ridge, then the rest of the field is ploughed round and round.

With no help available and a reasonably shaped field, use this method. Measure the shortest side of the field and divide it by two. Subtract 3 m from this measurement and then pace this distance from the hedge towards the middle, at intervals around the field. Walk into the field at right angles to the hedge. Mark each point with a stake and a small replica of the field shape will be produced in the middle. Plough the replica first, and then work round and round.

To keep a level field, it is best to work from the hedge, and then the centre, in alternate years. To plough from the hedge, first plough the headland and then make diagonal marking furrows. Continue ploughing round and round towards the middle but leave an unploughed strip on either side of the diagonal, marking furrows for turning. When the main part of the field is completed, the diagonal strips are ploughed.


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