Sometimes you may need to hook on a plough that you haven’t used before or is new to you. After attaching the plough to the tractor, the next stage is getting it set up to plough.
There are many adjustments we can make: the angle of the plough to the ground, how deep it ploughs, the top link length, to ensure it is ploughing at an equal depth on the front and back furrows, and the rear depth wheel. The most important one, which we discuss in this article, is the plough front furrow width.
If the plough cannot be adjusted to match the remaining furrow widths it should be hooked off, because all these other settings are pointless if the front furrow width cannot be matched to the furrow width of the plough.
Why Front Furrow Width Is Important
Matching your front furrow width – the distance between the inside of the tractor’s rear tire and the furthest edge of the first furrow point- to the remaining furrows of the plough, is essential to achieve uniform ploughing.
A plough that is correctly set will pull straight behind the tractor – you will know this if the top link is running straight behind you as you plough.
When a plough is hooked onto the back of the tractor the lower link arms should be free to move slightly from left to right, so that the plough has a little movement for obstacles such as stones or rocks.
The front furrow width should be the same as the distance between the first and second furrows and all other furrows. Here’s why this measurement is important:
Balance and Stability
Ploughing involves significant forces and resistance as the plough moves through the soil. Although the moisture of the soil being ploughed will affect these forces – maintaining equal-sized furrows is also very important.
By aligning the front furrow width with the distance between the remaining ploughs furrows, you ensure that the plough spreads the pulling forces equally across all furrows which makes the plough more balanced and stable during operation.
Efficiency and Uniformity:
Consistant width and depth across all the furrows promotes efficient and uniform soil turnover.
When the front furrow width corresponds to the distance between the remaining furrows, the plough creates a smooth, continuous cutting action, minimizing unnecessary soil disruption while achieving consistent depth and width of all furrows.
A wider or narrower front furrow will show in the ploughed ground as a large or small front furrow which can be confused with incorrect top link settings. Sometimes when the front furrow is smaller compared to the other furrows the top link is shortened – when in actual fact the front furrow width may need to be increased.
The tractor will pull the plough much easier than if the front furrow width is not matched to the plough
This helps massively when creating a uniform seedbed, which is crucial for even crop emergence and growth.
Ease of Operation:
Aligning the front furrow width with the distance between furrows simplifies the ploughing process.
It provides a visual guide for the operator, making it easier to maintain a straight line and follow the correct path between furrows.
This ensures that subsequent furrows are evenly spaced and parallel, optimizing field coverage and reducing the need for corrective actions.
A consistent front furrow width and furrow spacing are also beneficial for seedbed management.
When the furrows are evenly spaced, it allows for uniform distribution of seeds, fertilizer, and other inputs. This enables efficient use of resources and promotes uniform crop establishment, reducing competition among plants and maximizing yield potential.
Checking the compatibility of the plough to the tractor
Small ploughs are designed for small tractors with narrow wheel track settings, large ploughs are designed for large tractors with wide wheel track settings.
If your plough wheel track settings cannot be met by your tractor, adjusting the front furrow width along the cross shaft is pointless, as it will never achieve the correct settings.
Determining whether a plough can be used with a specific tractor involves considering factors such as wheel track spacing, cross-shaft adjustment capabilities, and compatibility with front furrow width requirements. Here’s an explanation of how to assess whether a plough is suitable for a tractor:
- Wheel Track Spacing: The wheel track spacing refers to the distance between the inside edges of the tractor’s wheels. Large tractors typically have wider wheel track spacing compared to smaller tractors. When selecting a plough, it’s crucial to consider the wheel track spacing of the tractor to ensure compatibility.
- Cross-Shaft Adjustment: The cross-shaft adjustment on a plough allows for the movement of the implement along the cross-shaft, which, in turn, adjusts the front furrow width. This adjustment is essential for aligning the front furrow width with the other furrows of the plough.
The Size Of The Tractor
When using large tractors with wide wheel track spacing, it’s important to choose a plough that offers a significant cross-shaft adjustment capability.
This adjustment range should be wide enough to accommodate the wider wheel track spacing of the tractor. It ensures that the front furrow width can be matched with the furrow widths of the plough, maintaining uniformity across the field.
The Size Of The Plough
Small ploughs, such as the Ferguson two-furrow plough, do not have cross-shaft adjustment. These ploughs are designed for use with small tractors that have narrow wheel track spacing.
When attempting to fit a small plough with no cross-shaft adjustment to a large tractor with wide wheel track spacing, the front furrow width will likely be significantly larger than the intended furrow width of the plough. This mismatch can lead to inefficient ploughing and compromised crop performance.
Front Furrow Width Compatibility
Ploughs have a predetermined working track width, which specifies the acceptable range within which the tractor’s wheel track must fall. To ensure compatibility between the plough and the tractor, it is crucial to consider the wheel track settings of both.
When setting the tractor at its narrowest wheel track setting, if the width between the inside edges of the tractor’s wheels is wider than the available wheel track settings of the plough, the plough cannot be used. In this case, the tractor’s wheel track exceeds the allowable range of the plough’s working track width.
It is essential to consult the plough manufacturer’s guidelines and specifications to determine the acceptable wheel track range for the plough. Likewise, referring to the tractor manufacturer’s documentation will provide information on the available wheel track settings.
By ensuring that the tractor’s wheel track falls within the specified working track width of the plough, farmers can guarantee compatibility and optimal performance during ploughing operations.
Setting The Front Furrow Width
Adjusting the front furrow width of a plough takes place by moving the whole plough along the cross-shaft.
The cross shaft is the bar that runs from one link arm to the other link arm. This cross shaft allows the entire plough to be moved from one side of the tractor to the other.
By matching the distance of the front furrow width to the other furrows of the plough, farmers can ensure ploughing uniformity and consistency across the field. Here’s an explanation of how this adjustment is made and its significance:
The front furrow width is measured from the inside face of the rear tyre to the furthest edge of the ploughs front furrow point. This measurement should match the other furrow widths of your plough.
Your ploughs furrow width is the measurement from the landside of one furrow to the furthest away point of the other furrow.
To Decrease Front Furrow width
If you notice that your front furrow looks much larger in the ploughed ground compared to the other furrows, there is a strong possibility it is too large – check with a tape measure. If it is too wide you should decrease the front furrow width.
To decrease the front furrow width and match the furrow widths of the plough, the implement is shifted closer to the inside tire of the tractor. This adjustment narrows the distance between the furrow created by the plough to the inside face of the tractor tyre.
- Uniform furrow spacing: Decreasing the front furrow width to the correct measurement ensures that the spacing between furrows is consistent and aligned with the desired width. This uniformity aids in even seed distribution, crop emergence, and subsequent field operations.
- Balanced weight distribution: Moving the plough towards the inside tyre, decreasing the front furrow to the correct measurement helps maintain balance and stability by evenly distributing the weight and pulling forces on the implement. This promotes smoother and more controlled ploughing operations.
To Increase Front Furrow Width
When you notice that the amount of soil being turned over in the front furrow looks smaller compared to all the other furrows – it is most likely you should increase the width of your front furrow (a simple check with a tape measure will confirm this).
To increase the front furrow width and match the furrow widths of the plough, the implement is shifted away from the inside tire. This adjustment widens the distance between the furrow created by the plough and the inside tire.
- Consistent furrow dimensions: Increasing the front furrow width allows for matching the furrow widths of the plough, ensuring consistent dimensions across the field. This uniformity contributes to even seed placement, proper seed-to-soil contact, and efficient crop growth.
- Enhanced residue management: Correct front furrow spacing created by increasing the front furrow width can accommodate more crop residues, aiding in effective residue management and soil conservation efforts.
- Improved soil aeration and drainage: Increasing the front furrow width to its proper width, improves soil aeration and drainage, especially in heavier soil types, potentially improving overall soil health and water management.
By adjusting the front furrow width through the movement of the plough along the cross-shaft, farmers can achieve the correct furrow width, which makes uniform ploughing much easier across the field.
This alignment ensures uniformity in tilling operations, seed placement, crop establishment, and subsequent farming operations, ultimately leading to improved productivity and crop performance.
The front furrow width is adjusted by moving the body of the plough along the cross shaft. Don’t use the tractors link arm check chains to move the plough into position. The top link should be straight behind the tractor when in operation.
If the front furrow cannot be be matched to the other furrows of the plough at full cross shaft adjustment, the plough cannot be used with the tractors current wheel track settings. If the tractors wheel track settings cannot be moved to meet the required settings of the plough, the plough should be hooked off as it is not compatible with the tractor and uniform ploughing will never be achieved.