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Defeat Downtime: How to Winterize Farm Machinery

If mild fall weather is lulling you into a false sense of security, be warned: winter in the US corn belt often arrives fast. As temperatures prepare to plunge, it’s a good time to get ahead on winterizing machinery and equipment.

A little effort now can pay dividends come the spring – not just by making sure your machinery is primed and ready for action when planting season starts, but by helping you avoid unnecessary downtime and costs.  Let’s take a look at some priority tasks you should be completing before the winter freeze arrives.

Clean and store farm machinery

Dried on mud, crop residues and other debris accumulated during harvest, fall tillage and other farming operations should now be cleaned off of machines that won’t be used until the spring.  You might wonder what’s the harm in leaving dry residue alone – but mud and chaff can trap moisture on surfaces that speeds up corrosion, and also prevents you from properly inspecting your equipment to ensure it’s in good condition.  

A good wash down in the late fall might seem like a vanity project but it’s actually just good farm sense, helping you nip rust issues in the bud and extending the lifespan of your equipment.  

Inspect engine compartments, belts and pulleys to make sure they’re clear of any plant residue that could catch fire when the machine is started up again in spring.

Once cleaned, ideally planters, harrows, chisel plows and other equipment that isn’t needed over winter should be stored in a weatherproof and rodent-proof barn to minimize the risk of damage occurring during idle periods.  If space is an issue, consider using custom tarp to offer some protection from the elements.

Tractor ready for winterizing on a barren corn field

Look out for lubrication

Cold temperatures increase the viscosity of lubricants as well as causing metals to shrink or constrict.  As a result, moving parts that are not adequately lubricated before winter sets in can seize up completely in cold weather, leading to unnecessary downtime and sometimes even expensive parts replacements to get them moving again.

Prevent this from happening by carrying out a lubrication check on all your farm equipment in the late fall – change to a lower viscosity engine oil if you live in a particularly cold region, apply grease where required, and replace sealed components like bearing hubs if you suspect they’ve reached the end of their useful life.  This will ensure your machinery is ready to roll when the temperature starts to rise again.

Precision-engineered flange component with threaded center and bolt holes for machinery assembly

Coolant, fuel and other fluid checks

Winterizing fluids is important for machinery that will be stored in the colder months but also for machines you’ll continue to use in winter.  

Check the antifreeze levels in the cooling system and also test the freeze point of the fluids to ensure the correct water to antifreeze ratio – vital to stop engines from freezing up in cold weather but also for making sure that water doesn’t corrode the engine interior when the machine is sitting idle.

Bright yellow coolant reservoir cap prominently marked on a farm machinery engine

Engine powered equipment that won’t be used in winter should be stored with a full fuel tank – this stops condensation from forming during cold spells, which can contaminate the fuel with water when there’s a thaw.

Hydraulic fluids, transmission and engine oil should all be changed to a product with appropriate cold weather viscosity – run the machine for a short period after any fluid change to ensure the new fluid is circulated into the system.

Winter battery care

Idle batteries will discharge at a rate of 1% per day – and even faster in freezing weather – due to parasitic drain.  This natural process can also lead to sulfation of the battery which means that it can’t be recharged due to a buildup of sulfur on its lead plates. 

Maintain battery health by disconnecting and/or removing batteries and storing them in a warmer location – ideally keeping them charged using a smart charger that can detect when a top-up is required.  If this isn’t possible, aim to start and run your machinery on a regular basis to prevent the battery from discharging too much.

Close-up of a mechanic's hands assessing the condition of a used piece of machinery

Winter tire maintenance

After a long season in the field, there’s a good chance your vehicle tires are showing signs of wear or a loss of pressure – so now is a great time to inspect, replace or re-pressurize tires.  Underinflated tired will result in rapid wear and sidewall damage while overinflation can increase the risk of perishing, blowouts and soil compaction.

Of course, if you’ll be using a snow plow or blower, you need to make sure your tires have adequate tread to grip in tricky conditions – don’t forget to make sure snow chains and other equipment is ready to go.

Snow-covered tractor with plow attachment clearing winter roads during a heavy snowfall

Essential electrical checks for farm vehicles

Checking vehicle electrics before winter sets in is another essential maintenance task – not least because darker, shorter days depend on headlights and illuminated instruments being in full working order.  

For other equipment that will be stored over winter, it’s a good idea to make sure all bulbs and electrical connections are functional and safe to reduce the risk of electrical fires and ensure you can hit the ground running when spring planting rolls around.

Agricultural equipment in operation

Maintaining tillage & planting parts

Before you store equipment away for winter, check that all wear parts – discs, blades, tines etc – are in good condition with enough life remaining to get you through the upcoming season.  Check the alignment on coulters and chisels so that when you do bring this equipment back into use, you don’t have to waste valuable time on these checks and adjustments – once the sun comes out in spring, you’ll be good to go!  

Don’t forget that our Maximum Duty seed opener blades carry our ‘Guaranteed True®’ promise – we test every assembly before it leaves our warehouse so you don’t have to.

Spare Parts Inventory

Even with the best maintenance and preparation in the world, breakdowns will happen. Winter is the ideal time to make sure you have supplies of replacement parts for your equipment so that if you do hit a bump in spring, you can quickly and easily carry out any necessary repairs and get back to work quickly.  

Our Spring Preseason Promo runs from fall through New Year each year and offers farmers the chance to stock up on essentials for spring planting at discounted prices.

Enhance efficiency next spring

Regular maintenance combined with selecting the best quality tillage and planting parts you can afford is a tried-and-true way to enhance agronomic efficiency at any time of year. 

Wearparts offers farmers a genuine alternative to OEM parts with the benefit of up to 30% extra wear life – check out what our customers say about us, or find your nearest dealer

Green Manure: A guide to cover cropping

As fall arrives across the US, the Midwest and other crop-producing states are preparing for harvest and thinking ahead to the winter months – which means sowing winter wheat, and also cover crops.

Research shows that cover crop adoption in the US has increased dramatically over the last decade, with 2021 levels at four time what they were in 2011 – but overall, cover crop adoption remains low at just 7.2% of available cropland.  

The recent increase in cover crop planting has been attributed to federal and state incentives for farmers – for example, the USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which invested over $14 billion in conservation practices from 2010 to 2020.  

But with many farmers still choosing not to plant cover crops despite their potential benefits for the soil, we’re taking a closer look at an ancient farming practice that is coming back into fashion today.

Scattered seeds and emerging sprouts from the soil illustrating the initial stage of green manure cover cropping for healthier farm yields

What is a cover crop?

A cover crop is any crop that is planted in between ‘cash crops’ with the main goal of protecting or nourishing the soil.  Unlike cash crops, cover crops do not get harvested or sold – they are terminated at a specific point in their growing cycle and typically incorporated back into the soil either mechanically or naturally, although some are used as forage for animals.  Cover crops can also be referred to as ‘green manure’.  Ancient Chinese and Greek manuscripts suggest that the use of green manure has been around for thousands of years.

What are the benefits of cover cropping?

Planting a cover crop has numerous benefits for the soil and therefore, for future yields when cover crops are followed by cash crops like corn or soybeans. Here’s a look at the key benefits:

1. Prevention of soil erosion

In all but the southern states, winter weather typically brings with it harsh conditions involving wind, rain, snow and ice that can wreak havoc on exposed soil.  A 2022 study by the University of Massachusetts Amherst found that farms in the US breadbasket have lost on average 2mm of soil per year since the land was settled 160 years ago – that adds up to 57.6 billion metric tons of soil. 

Cover crops act as protection that prevents erosion – surface vegetation prevents soil being lifted by wind or washed away by surface runoff, while root structures bind the top layer of soil together and absorb excess water, reducing the risk of waterlogging.

2. Enhanced soil fertility

Cover crops are designed to be incorporated into the soil after they are terminated – either by being mechanically chopped and tilled in, or simply being left to decompose on the surface.  Either way, they add much-needed organic matter to the soil which can enhance its ability to retain moisture and nutrients. 

It’s common to use nitrogen fixing crops such as legumes as cover crops.  Nitrogen fixing plants have roots that are colonized by organisms that can trap and store atmospheric nitrogen.  When plowed into the earth, these plants are excellent at replacing the nitrogen that is removed by many cash crops, such as corn.

3. Weed management

Following harvest, it’s incredible how quickly weeds can colonize a field.  The difference between allowing weeds to cover the soil and deliberately planting a cover crop is that the farmer can control the outcome ahead of spring planting. 

While many weed species can drain the soil of nitrogen and other nutrients, as well as being extremely difficult to get rid of once established, cover crops are specifically selected because they’re easy to manage and good for the soil. 

By their very definition, cover crops provide excellent soil coverage which prevents weed seeds from germinating – meaning that in spring, there’s less work to do to get the main crop in the ground.

Farming vehicle with rotating blades preparing to cultivate the soil, highlighting a step in the cover cropping process for enhanced yield

What are the challenges of cover cropping?

Like any planting cycle, cover cropping involves additional work and demands that farmers pay even closer attention to the timing of their planting and harvesting cycles in order to get the maximum benefit of a cover crop.

Cover crop seeds also cost money, and some farmers may feel that the benefits can be matched by applying artificial fertilizers, especially if they live in an area where soil erosion is less of a problem.  Cover cropping may also incur additional costs for farm labor, fuel and equipment.

A big barrier to the use of cover cropping is lack of knowledge and perceived risks.  Although this method has been around for generations, it has fallen out of favor in the last century and therefore farmers may not feel confident in trying something that is new to them and their land.

What are the main types of cover crop in the US?

There are three main groups of plants that are typically used as cover crops in the US:

Sorghum hybrids (sudangrass)
Fast growing
Easy to manage residues
Can be used as forage
Fibrous roots bind the soil
LegumesWhite/Crimson Clover
Hairy Vetch
Can fix nitrogen from the air
Taproots improve compacted soil
Good organic matter
Can be used as forage
Broadleaf non-legumesBrassicas
Good for improving soil structure
Store soil nitrogen
Can be used as forage
Can deter pests

Which cover crop should I plant?

The type of cover crop selected will depend on the soil type and environmental conditions, but also on the type of cash crop the farmer wishes to grow next.  

For example, grass cover crops are often used where soil erosion is a problem – for example in locations where heavy wind and rain is a problem – and where the subsequent crop requires a good soil structure and little weed competition, such as corn and soybeans.

Corn and soybeans are also fairly demanding on soil nutrients, so a farmer who is less worried about soil erosion and more worried about fertilizer costs might opt to plant legumes over winter before putting in his spring corn or soybeans.  Legumes are also ideal cover prior to vegetable crops like peppers and tomatoes, which need a lot of nutrients.

Broadleaf non-legumes are often used as cover on mixed farms where they are a useful source of forage for livestock, but they also have disease and pest reducing properties that make them a useful cover crop prior to the planting of tender vegetables including lettuce.

Broadleaf non-legumes

What happens to cover crops in spring?

Prior to planting of the main cash crop, cover crops are typically ‘terminated’.  This can be done by mowing or tilling, use of herbicides or sometimes simply by turning livestock into the field where they will eat the crop and fertilize the soil with their manure. Some cover crops will die back naturally when the coldest winter weather arrives, and can easily be tilled into the soil before planting season begins in spring.

Termination of cover crops is timed carefully to ensure the plants have achieved optimal maturity – where they have accumulated enough organic matter to enrich the soil, and usually before they go to seed.  

Tools for the task include vertical tillage blades, high speed compact discs and coulter blades.  The type of equipment used will depend on the cover crop – fibrous grasses typically demand a more aggressive approach and will decompose more slowly than legumes, so the approach to residue management may be different.  Whatever your requirements, Wearparts can offer a quality alternative to OEM parts, with options to suit all machinery brands and soil types.

More information on cover crops

For more information about cover crops and available incentive schemes in your area, visit the USDA website.  For advice on tillage tools to enhance your crop rotation, manage residues and tackle soil quality challenges, get in touch with Wearparts directly or find your nearest Wearparts dealer.

Earth-Friendly Farming: How No-Till Boosts Crops and Captures Carbon

Farmers have long known that healthy soil makes for healthier and more abundant crops.  This is important because of our need to produce enough food globally for a growing population, within a limited land mass.

But food production isn’t the only thing motivating an increased focus on soil health.  Increasingly, we’re learning about the soil’s ability to capture and sequester carbon, making it one of the most significant prospective tools in the fight to slow global warming.

So how does it work – how does soil capture and hold onto carbon?  And how can farmers meet growing demand for crops while still protecting this delicate natural process?  Let’s take a look.

What is carbon?

Carbon is the fourth most abundant chemical element in the universe.  It’s the building block for life as we know it, because it has the ability to form complex molecules like proteins and DNA.  Earth is a ‘closed system’ when it comes to carbon – we have a fixed amount, that never changes.  

How is carbon stored and released?

Most carbon on Earth is stored in the atmosphere and in rock, but a lot is also stored in living matter including live organisms and vegetation.  Plants and other organisms are always exchanging carbon with the atmosphere – this is called the carbon cycle.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is absorbed by plants as they photosynthesise.  This carbon is then stored in the leaves, trunks and roots of the plants or trees.  Living things eat the plants, and convert them into energy in a process called respiration, which generates CO2 as a waste product – this can be exhaled during breathing, or expelled in the form of other C02-based gases like methane, and goes back into the atmosphere.

When plants and other organisms die, the carbon they were made of is released as they decompose, and becomes part of the soil.  Decomposed vegetable matter from plants can eventually, after very long periods of time, be transformed by immense pressure into rocks and even fossil fuels, like coal. 

When we dig up or burn these fuels, large amounts of carbon get released into the atmosphere.  Carbon is also released when we remove vegetation, when we burn trees for fuel, and when we till the soil.

Why is carbon bad?

In short, it isn’t.  Without carbon, life on earth couldn’t exist.  Carbon dioxide in our atmosphere acts like insulation, retaining heat from the sun so that Earth doesn’t get too cold.  But too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere intensifies this warming effect.  

Scientists estimate that since humans started burning fossil fuels during the industrial revolution, the average surface temperature on earth has risen by 1.8°F.  They are concerned that too much warming could have serious consequences for Earth such as a rise in sea levels, habitat loss and extreme weather patterns that could affect farming and food supplies.  

Under the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement, the global goal is to reduce carbon emissions and keep the average surface temperatures at no more than 3.7°F above pre-industrial levels.

How does the soil trap (sequester) carbon?

Many natural environments like forests, wetlands, peatlands and grasslands are referred to by scientists as ‘carbon sinks’ because they trap and store huge amounts of carbon deep underground.

During photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide from the air. They use sunlight and special cells called chloroplasts to convert it into glucose, which they use to help them grow, and oxygen, which they release into the atmosphere.  The carbon molecules remain stored inside the plant’s structures and when the plant decays, they are typically transferred to the soil.  

As plant lifecycles continue, old plants die and new ones germinate, feeding off the decaying plant matter in the soil.  In the upper levels, some carbon will always be exchanged between the soil and the plants or the atmosphere, but if the soil itself is left undisturbed, the stored carbon eventually percolates down to lower and lower levels where it can be locked away or sequestered for much longer.

Does carbon make soil more fertile?

Yes.  Carbon is the main component of soil organic matter and helps give soil its structure, water retention capacity, and fertility.  Soils rich in organic matter can support complex ecosystems including fungi and micro-organisms that are vital for strong, healthy crops.  These soils will have a defined structure that allows them to absorb and retain moisture, and move nutrients around effectively.  As well as supporting strong plant growth, this means that carbon-rich soils are less prone to flooding, wind erosion and other forms of degradation.

Carbon & no-till farming

Increased understanding of how the soil traps carbon and why this can be beneficial for farmers has led to a rise in the popularity of conservation tillage, particularly no-till.

For generations, farmers believed that the best way to keep soil healthy and get good yields was to churn it up before each planting to make it very friable, and apply lots of fertilizers – but in recent times, that thinking has begun to change.  It’s becoming accepted that while fertilizers may always be needed to support intensive farming regimes, less tillage helps the soil to retain these nutrients as well as moisture.

What is no-till farming?

No-till farming is the gold standard of conservation tillage because, as the name suggests, it’s built on the principle of not tilling the soil.  In no-till, the previous crop residue is left in place to decompose and a system of crop and potentially livestock rotation is used to manage soil nutrition in addition to the application of fertilizers.  

During planting, seed openers are used to cut a trench right through the previous year’s trash, into which the seed is planted and covered over with as little soil disturbance as possible.  This means that as much of the carbon as possible contained in the soil and in the plant matter is left in place, offering the greatest opportunity for long-term carbon sequestration.  Here are some benefits of no-till for farmers and the environment:

Soil structure is preserved

Plant roots, pores and capillaries in the soil structure are preserved so that the soil can more easily move moisture and nutrients around.  Fertilizers and rainwater are absorbed more readily, reducing the risk of soil degradation or erosion even in intensive farming cycles.

Micro-organisms flourish

Soil is full of micro-organisms from insects and worms down to microscopic fungi and bacteria that can be beneficial for crops.  When we don’t turn the soil over as in conventional tillage systems, these organisms can thrive – ensuring crops grow strongly, and capturing even more carbon in the soil.

Water is conserved

One of the biggest benefits of no-till is that it prevents loss of moisture from the soil.  Even when surface layers appear dry and cracked, in no-till systems you typically find that the subsoil stays moist for much longer than in conventional systems.  This can make crops much more resilient to drought.

Agronomic efficiency

Farmers running no-till systems can save significantly on fuel because they don’t till or cultivate the soil before planting or during the growing season.  They also save money on tillage parts and machinery.  No-till farming is a very time-efficient way of working, although it does require some careful thought and planning to make the system work effectively.

Other conservation tillage methods like strip-till, ridge-till and mulch-till are less effective at retaining soil structure and preventing carbon release, but they do help to slow the process down which has benefits for farm yields and the environment alike.

Looking for tools for your conservation tillage system?

Wearparts offers a wide range of tillage and planting parts compatible with all popular machinery brands and designed to give your no-till or conservation tillage system the edge.  Discover 30% longer wearlife and guarantees against breakage for efficient planting and less downtime – find a dealer today!

Crop residue management: – Essential tillage tools for the job

As farming practices go, crop residue management is a relatively new concept.  While many aspects of tillage farming have barely changed in centuries (save for advances in technology), it wasn’t until the 1960s that farmers began to make the connection between their operations and the erosion or degradation of the soil.

This eventually led to the adoption of no-till farming practices and other conservative tillage methods, including the idea of using crop residues to protect and nourish the soil.

A large percentage of farmers now practise some form of residue management on their land, and as a result, these methods – and the tools to support them – have become much more refined.  Let’s take a look at the different types of residue management, and what’s available to help farmers manage these processes more efficiently.

What is residue management?

When we talk about residue management, we are usually referring to the deliberate management or use of leftover stalks, stems, leaves and other vegetation left behind when a crop such as corn, barley or wheat is harvested.

However, residue management can also refer to cover crops – crops that are planted for the sole purpose of protecting the soil.  

In both cases, the vegetation plays an important role in protecting the soil from wind erosion, promoting moisture absorption and preventing surface water runoff, and enhancing the soil structure together with its roots. 

At  a certain point in the life cycle of these plants, they will then be plowed into the soil where they decompose, enriching the soil with organic matter and nutrients.

Sometimes, chopped residue such as straw is left lying on the soil surface.  This process is called mulching.  Mulch is often used as cover for emerging seedlings, protecting them from extreme weather until they become established.  The mulch decays over time, providing organic matter for the soil.

What are the main types of residue management?

Residue management is carried out as part of a wider tillage system.  In a no-till system, more than 30% of the soil is covered by residue.  In conservation tillage – such as strip-till or ridge-till, between 15% and 30% is covered.  Conventional tillage systems leave less than 15% of the soil covered by residue at any given time.

No-till systems

No-till farming involves planting crops directly into undisturbed soil, with residues from the previous crop left behind to protect emerging seedlings and maintain the structure of the soil.  

No-till systems depend on the use of very precise, sharp planting blades that can effectively open a clean furrow by slicing down through surface trash.  If the blades are dull or not angled correctly, hairpinning can occur.  This is when trash gets pushed down into the bottom of the furrow, allowing air to get trapped and preventing good seed-to-soil contact, which can lead to poor germination and disease.

Conservation tillage

Also known as reduced tillage, conservation tillage is the collective term for a number of different practices that aim to retain more surface residue for the benefit of the soil.  Farmers may use one of the following processes:


Strip till is where the land is tilled in alternating strips.  Where crops are to be planted, the residue is plowed in.  But between rows, the soil is left undisturbed with the residues intact. The following year, the strips are switched over so that each planting cycle, half the field is left undisturbed. Strip tillage is popular on challenging soils where no-till might not be practical.  The process itself is usually carried out using a strip-till rig with a combination of ripper points, coulter wheels, fertilizer knives and other soil conditioning blades.


Ridge tillage is often used for sloping sites, but can be implemented in almost any conditions.  The land is initially tilled to create evenly-spaced ridges that sit 4-6 inches above the level of the soil, with furrows in between.  The tops of the ridges are more aerated and warm more quickly than the furrows.  Crops are planted into the ridge, which gives them an advantage over any weed seeds that germinate in the furrow.  

Following harvest and over winter, residue from the crop is left on the surface.  In spring, only the tops of the ridges are tilled and reshaped before planting.  Ridge tillage has the disadvantage of needing specialist ridge-tillage machinery for cultivation and planting.  Residue on the ridge top may be removed altogether using a ridge cleaner, or chopped using blades set to a very shallow depth – sharpness is vital so as not to damage the shape of the ridge.


Mulch tillage is another technique for residue management.  Instead of plowing residue into the soil, in mulch tillage the subsoil is tilled using deep implements like chisel plows to break up compaction, while the surface of the soil – and any vegetation or stubble on it – is left relatively undisturbed.  Mulch till is regarded as a conservation technique because it leaves at least 30% of the soil surface covered by trash; however it involves tilling 100% of the subsoil, which can still leave the soil vulnerable to wind and water erosion.

Cover cropping

Cover cropping is also sometimes referred to as ‘green manure’.  Cover crops are planted with the sole purpose of covering the soil, rather than as a cash crop for harvesting.  The most common cover crops are legumes, which are part of the pea family – these include alfalfa, peas, beans and lentils.  Legumes are known for their high nitrogen levels, which they fix into the soil, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers.  Legume crops also help to eliminate soil bacteria and enhance biodiversity, forming valuable ecosystems that help to further enhance soil quality in the long run.

Cover crops are usually plowed into the soil before the plants reach maturity, although sometimes they are used as fodder for grazing animals who eat the vegetation and then condition the soil with their waste.

What are the benefits of residue management?

The benefits of effective residue management have both environmental and financial benefits for the farmer.

Erosion prevention

As previously discussed, the primary benefit of crop residue management is its ability to protect the soil from wind and water erosion.  The presence of stubble on the soil surface prevents dry soil from blowing or being washed away during extreme weather conditions, especially in winter.

Moisture retention

However, crop residue management also has important benefits for overall soil quality, too.  Leaving residue behind after a crop is harvested means that the roots of the plant are still intact, which preserves the soil structure and prevents it from becoming compacted.  This means that moisture can penetrate more easily, and can be stored in the pores of the soil which reduces surface waterlogging and runoff.

Nutrient cycling

As the residue decays, the nutrients stored within it are released back into the soil.  Fibrous material decomposes into humus, which is a rich source of nourishment for subsequent crop plantings.  Humus-rich soils retain heat more effectively, so they warm up faster in spring and stay warmer for longer during the growing season.

Weed suppression

While decaying crop residues can promote growth, stalky crop residues on the surface can help to inhibit the growth of weeds by preventing seeds from germinating.

Sustainability and efficiency

Crop residue management systems like no-till and strip-till also have environmental and financial benefits.  The less the soil is disturbed, the more carbon it can sequester, which is one way farmers can help slow down climate change.  Reduced tillage systems can often open a furrow, fertilize and plant in a single pass, which vastly reduces the cost per acre and maximizes farm productivity.

What planting and tillage tools are used for residue management?

Crop residue management requires the use of a range of different tillage tools and implements depending on the system being used.

  1. Seed opener blades are used in all systems for opening a seed furrow and planting the seed.  In no-till systems, it’s vital that seed opener blades run true and stay sharp so they can effectively slice through trash and open a clean furrow with no hairpinning.  Wearparts seed opener blades are triple heat treated with a longer bevel that stays sharp for up to 30% longer than the OEM equivalent, with a lifetime guarantee against breakage.  We test all our blades in-house to some of the tightest tolerances in the industry, ensuring precision planting even in dry soil conditions.
  1. Coulter blades and high-speed compact disc blades may be used in strip-till operations to prepare a seedbed before planting.  Again, sharpness and durability are of paramount importance, enabling the farmer to cover more ground before the blades need to be replaced.  Our boron steel blades are designed to wear more evenly and last longer than any other blades on the market – plus we’re the exclusive United States distributor of Serbian-made, globally renowned FKL bearing hubs to help you get the best possible performance from your blades.
  1. Ripper points and chisel plow spikes are used in mulch-till operations for subsoiling.  This is deep, heavy-duty work that demands superior components with the longest possible wear life.  We offer custom hardfacing on many of our ground-engaging components, and we also source our ripper points using high-chromium white iron for additional strength and aggressiveness.
  1. For ridge tillage systems, our cultivator sweep blades can be used for mechanical weed control.

Want to find out more?

If you’re thinking ahead to fall planting or even next spring’s crop residue management, and you’d like to know more about how Wearparts can make your operations more efficient, get in touch – or locate your nearest Wearparts dealer.

The ‘next big thing’ in seed openers is already here

Waiting for the ‘next big thing’ in seed openers from an OEM brand?  What if we told you this new technology already exists – and you can order now to install on planters in time for the 2024 planting season?

At Wearparts, we’re leading the way on high quality aftermarket seed openers that knock OEM options out of the park on tolerance, for the most efficient, precise planting you’ve ever achieved.

Premium seed opener assemblies

Our AA65248MDBA seed opener assemblies (designed to fit John Deere planters) feature heat-treated boron steel blades and reinforced 5mm thick bearing housings with 5/16” rivets, precision-assembled using Peer bearings.  The blades themselves are designed with a longer bevel that allows the edge to stay sharper for longer, outlasting our closest competitor blade by as much as 8%.

Our blade assemblies are tested in-house by us to some of the tightest tolerances in the ag industry – each blade must achieve a minimum of .050/1.27mm axial / .060/1.52mm radial tolerance, or it doesn’t leave our warehouse.  That means no wobble and no lope – and no need to waste hours pre-qualifying blades prior to installation.  

Our Field-Ready Guarantee means that if our blades don’t run true we’ll replace them, no questions asked – so farmers can stop worrying about testing blades before installation, and get on with getting those seeds in the ground.

Achieve bigger yields

Truer blades mean a precise, v-shaped trench for seeds to drop into with less risk of trash getting in there, leading to the formation of air pockets when the trench is closed.  As a result, seeds germinate more consistently and crops are less prone to disease, pests and rot – which means bigger, more predictable yields.  And not only that – our blade assemblies are also guaranteed against breakage in the field, which means zero downtime caused by parts failure.

Put all these benefits together, and the farmer gets increased planting efficiency with a lower cost per acre AND the potential for increased yields, at OEM spec without the hefty OEM price tag.  

As a dealer, you benefit from vastly reduced comebacks, which means more satisfied customers and a lot less paperwork. We’ve got stock of these blade assemblies available for fall shipping, so you and your customers can be well ahead of the game for 2024 planting.

Why wait around for that big OEM reveal – get a pocket-friendly head start with Wearparts and see for yourself why customers choose our seed opener assemblies year after year.  Complete the form below to learn more or contact your sales rep to place a wholesale order.

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Coping with drought: How farmers can adapt to a drier climate

Much of America’s Midwest is currently experiencing a prolonged dry spell, with below normal precipitation and above normal temperatures resulting in worsening drought conditions.  

According to the USDA’s drought monitor as of mid-June, parts of Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Texas were experiencing severe drought conditions with over 50% of the country’s corn and soybean crop currently growing in drought areas.  

Even some storms with heavy rainfall have failed to make much difference in the driest places, which begs the question – is drought going to be a regular feature of US farming in the future?  How bad could it get?  And what can farmers do to mitigate against dry conditions?

Let’s take a look at farming in drought conditions – how to maximize soil moisture, what the options are for irrigation, and what the future of farming might look like as a result of ongoing climate conditions.

What can farmers do about drought?

There’s nothing a farmer can do to make it rain – but there are many steps farmers can take to address the problem of low precipitation.  These include measures like artificial irrigation, soil enhancement, erosion prevention and careful crop selection.  It’s worth noting that in extreme drought conditions, finding enough water to irrigate crops can be a challenge. Let’s take a look at some of the measures in more detail.

What are the main methods of soil irrigation?

There are lots of different methods of providing water to dry soil during a drought using irrigation systems.  Some systems – such as overhead sprinkler systems – are high cost and high-tech, and most often used for specialized crops with low drought tolerance.  Other methods are more cost effective and easier to apply across large acreages, like some of these tried and trusted methods:

Surface irrigation

Surface irrigation methods are some of the most traditional and involve simply flooding water onto the surface of the soil and allowing it to absorb.  Methods include furrow irrigation and border irrigation, where water is diverted into soil ‘troughs’ so it can’t run off before being absorbed.  Surface irrigation is low tech so it can be used on very large acreages, but it requires a lot of water, and doesn’t deliver targeted irrigation to the plant.

Center pivot irrigation

Center pivot irrigation is used for large farms because it can cover big areas efficiently.  A sprinkler system is mounted on wheeled towers which roll in a circular pattern around a central ‘pivot’, which is the water source.  Plants are then irrigated by the overhead sprinklers.  These systems have led to the emergence of circular crop fields all over America, although they can be adapted for rectangular fields.

Drip irrigation

Drip irrigation is when a farmer runs a network of pipes or tubes through a field.  The pipes have holes that drip feed water close to where the emerging plants are.  This system is relatively low tech and low cost, and delivers targeted moisture directly to the plant so it uses less water.  However, it may not be practical to use across very large areas.

Micro sprinkler

Like drip irrigation, micro sprinkler irrigation involves the use of a pipe network but instead of dripping out of holes in the pipe, the water is delivered through a series of small sprinkler attachments.  These provide a very fine spray of water that is precisely targeted to the plant, making them very water efficient – but not very cost-effective across large acreages.

Sub-surface irrigation

Sub-surface irrigation is similar to drip irrigation except that the pipes for delivering the water are buried underground.  This has some big advantages in that the moisture is delivered directly to the roots of the plant, and also because evaporation is kept to a minimum because the water is applied below the surface.  It’s not very high-tech, but can be disruptive to install and requires careful monitoring to ensure soil does not become waterlogged.  Care must also be taken not to disturb or damage the pipes during future planting cycles.

What are the alternatives to soil irrigation?

Artificial soil irrigation methods aren’t always very practical in modern day crop farming.  The vast acreages involved make watering plants via a network of sprinklers or pipes very expensive.

Instead, farmers must look for ways to preserve the moisture that’s already in the soil so that plants have the best possible chance of survival, even when it doesn’t rain for long periods.

How can farmers conserve soil moisture?

In order to retain moisture in the soil, it’s important to preserve both the structure and the content of that soil.  The more organic matter soil contains, the better it is at absorbing and retaining moisture.  Undisturbed soil has its own structure – a complex network of channels that allow moisture and nutrients to be moved around and stored.  Preserving the soil in the best possible condition is the key to preventing moisture loss.  Here’s a look at some ways farmers can optimise soil condition:

No-till systems

In no-till systems, the soil is not plowed or turned over, so its natural structure is preserved. This means that all the tiny pores and channels in the soil that are used to store water remain intact, and can be accessed by the roots of young plants.

Cover cropping

The pressures of modern farming have led to the ‘supersizing’ of the industry – it’s more economical to farm vast swathes of land using huge 100ft machines that can do more work in a single pass.  But these practices have meant the loss of natural hedgerows, woodlands and other windbreaks that are not only important for biodiversity, but also for moisture conservation.  A field surrounded by tall trees has its own microclimate – natural shade slows the evaporation of moisture, while tree canopies stop the wind from carrying away moist air.

Selecting crops for dry climates

One of the best things farmers can do to mitigate for drought conditions is grow crops that are naturally adapted to dry conditions.  These types of crops will require less irrigation and be less vulnerable to pests and disease.

Crops that cope well with dry conditions typically have deep roots that allow them to access moisture locked away in lower soil levels.  Science has led to the development of new varieties of staple crops like corn and soya that are better adapted to drought conditions.  But there are many crops that are naturally able to cope with dry soils, and many believe we should be looking into these as a more sustainable food source for the future.

These crops include cowpeas (black eyed peas), sorghum, alfalfa and groundnuts.

What to do if you are concerned about drought

There isn’t anything farmers can do that will prevent a drought or make it rain.  But there are things you can do to be better prepared, and to sustain their farms through prolonged dry periods.

  • Farmers don’t need reminding to keep their eye on the weather forecast – but it’s also worth keeping your finger on the pulse of the USDA drought monitoring system.  You can register to submit data from your own farm that helps meteorologists understand precipitation and drought patterns better.  It’s hoped this information will allow farmers to predict when future droughts will occur and act accordingly.
  • Make sure you are aware of any available government support and compensation programs relevant to drought.  You may be able to access financial support for irrigation systems, or claim against losses of livestock and/or crops due to excessively dry weather.
  • Work with your fellow farmers.  In many drought-prone states, farmers have formed water-sharing collectives or made arrangements with neighboring farms to share water resources.  Remember, a little water can make a big difference – collaborating with others can optimize water allocation and reduce individual risks.

Looking to the future

If you’re considering switching your farming system to a conservation or no-till method to conserve water, Wearparts can help.  We offer a wide range of replacement tillage and planting parts developed specifically for no-till systems, that can help you work the soil efficiently without damaging its natural structures.  Get in touch to find out more.

Agricultural Bearing Hubs: What they are and why they matter

In crop farming, there will always be the need for tillage in one form or another, and disc blades have long been regarded as the most efficient tool for the task – in fact the disc harrow as we know it today was first invented way back in the 1880s. 

Rotating circular blades create less resistance when moving through rocky or heavy soils, which maximizes efficiency – and wherever there’s a rotating blade, you’ll usually find a bearing hub.  

But what exactly are agricultural bearing hubs?  What function do they perform?  What should you look out for when choosing bearing hubs for your disc harrow or cultivator?  Let’s take a look at some of the engineering behind agricultural bearing hubs, and how they can impact on machinery performance.

What is an agricultural bearing hub?

An agricultural hub or bearing hub is an assembly of parts that allows a rotating blade or other ground-engaging component to be attached individually to a machine such as a harrow.

Agricultural bearing hubs are made up of two main parts – a rolling bearing, and a bearing housing.  

A rolling bearing is composed of two concentric, grooved metal rings called races.  Within the groove between the two races is a series of ball bearings or rollers.  The ball bearings allow the races to roll clockwise or counter-clockwise around each other with a minimal amount of friction.

Most bearings are mounted in a housing that enables them to be fitted onto a piece of machinery.  There are lots of different types of bearing housing, for example pillow block bearings, flanged bearings, tapered bearings and more.

In an agri hub assembly, the bearing is housed in a circular hub with bolt holes that allow the complete assembly to be securely attached to the center of a disc blade for a high-speed disc harrow, a planter or other piece of machinery.

What do agricultural bearing hubs do?

As we’ve already explained, bearing hub units are used for any machine that has rotating blades mounted on individual shafts as opposed to ‘gangs’ of blades, which are mounted in groups on a shared axle.  

Bearing hubs allow the moving parts to turn freely, reducing friction and minimizing wear on the parts themselves.  They absorb the load of the machinery itself, and the drag as the blades move through the soil.  This protects non-replaceable components from the long term effects of vibration, axial and radial forces, and even impacts with obstacles in the field, such as rocks.

Bearings also serve to distribute loads more evenly so that components like disc blades can achieve consistent contact with the soil, and wear down evenly.  The result is that blades need replacing less often, and the overall lifespan of expensive machinery is extended.

Maintenance of agricultural bearing hubs

Maintaining your agricultural bearing hubs is important for overall machine performance.

Worn bearings can result in uneven blade-to-soil contact, which in turn affects soil aeration and seed germination.  If your bearings are worn, your blades won’t turn freely, which increases drag – this results in more wear and tear on your disc harrow or planter, and will also increase your fuel costs.

Signs of worn bearing hubs include:

  • A grinding noise when the blade turns
  • Excessive vibrations when the machine is operating
  • Heating up or discoloration of the bearing housing
  • Oil or grease leaking from the housing
  • Contaminants accumulating in the bearing housing

Key features of agricultural bearing hubs

In agricultural operations, bearing hubs have to withstand a unique set of challenges.  

Bearing hubs that are not specifically designed for agricultural machinery are unlikely to deliver the durability required.  This can result in frequent breakdowns and costly downtime for the farmer, as well as potential long-term damage to equipment.

Load capacity and speed

Agricultural bearings are exposed to extreme, often variable radial and axial loads.

This can be from the weight of the equipment, from collisions with rocks and debris in the field, from the force of the cutting blades, or from the gears of the machine itself.  

These loads act on the bearing for long periods and across large areas, sometimes thousands of acres.  If the bearings don’t perform consistently, the blades can’t do their job properly, resulting in inconsistent results.

Speed is an important consideration when choosing the right bearing hubs for your application.  For example, a high-speed disc harrow will put a lot more strain on its bearings, compared to a lower speed machine.

Contamination resistance

Another key challenge for agricultural bearing hubs is contamination.  Farm machinery operates in difficult conditions with a lot of contamination in the form of water, soil, seeds and even corrosive substances like pesticides and fertilizers.  

If these contaminants are able to get inside the bearing hub, they can damage the smooth action of the bearing, or even cause it to seize up.

For this reason, agricultural bearing hubs should be designed with an effective system to seal the housing against contamination, keeping dirt out while sealing the lubricant in for long-term performance.  As mentioned above, if you see grease leaking from your bearing housing, or if it’s gathering debris, it may be time to replace.

Ease of maintenance

That brings us to a final point – ease of maintenance.  Most agricultural bearing hubs are designed to be maintenance-free.  Because they are sealed to prevent contamination, you can’t normally lubricate them yourself – they should simply be replaced when they become worn.  

Removing a bearing hub is a relatively simple task – simply loosen the bolts that attach the hub to the disc.  If the bolts have seized over time, you may need to carefully grind them off.

Wearparts bearing hubs

At Wearparts, we offer a range of agricultural bearing hubs to fit various brands of farm machinery.  We’ve searched the globe for the finest engineering and most carefully considered hub designs, to ensure our customers get the efficient performance and long wear life they expect from Wearparts.

Our bearing hubs offer key features including induction hardened flanges and cast housings for enhanced durability.  We’re also the exclusive distributor of FKL bearing hubs in the United States.  

Based in Serbia, FKL has been manufacturing high-performance bearing hubs since the 1960s and has a specific product development program for agriculture.  Their Agro Point hub assemblies offer best-in-class performance for farming operations, including their unique ‘dirtblock’ system for contamination.

FKL’s dirtblock seal is high-durability solution created for heavy-duty applications in harsh environmental and operating conditions. It ensures that grease is always in contact with the rolling element and bearing raceway, while also preventing mud penetration and dissipating the heat produced during operation. 

Wearparts bearing hubs (including FKL hubs) come in various diameters, with 4 and 5-hole bolt patterns to fit a wide range of OEM branded machinery, including Degelman, Vaderstad, Horsch, Norwood, John Deere, Amazone, Kuhn, Poettinger, Lemken and more.

To find out more, get in touch – or click to find your nearest Wearparts dealer today.

Anatomy of Wearparts seed opener blades

Investing in precision seed opener blades is probably one of the best things you can do to ensure successful germination and high yields from your 2023/4 crops.

Quality seed openers will open a clean, v-shaped furrow, working in tandem with gauge wheels to ensure minimal soil displacement for excellent seed-to-soil contact, minimizing the risk of air pockets that can lead to seed failures and losses due to disease.

Seed opener blades might look more or less the same, but they’re not all created equal.   Wearparts seed openers are created in partnership with the renowned manufacturer Forges de Niaux in France, and have evolved in response to real feedback gathered from real farmers.  This means that our seed openers have some unique features and advantages that can give you the edge.

Every seed opener blade assembly is effectively made up of the same component parts.  On a row unit, there are two blades with beveled edges – these can be notched or smooth.  Each blade has a central assembly or housing that contains the bearing – this allows the blade to turn.  The bearing is pressed into the housing and then secured to the blade with a series of rivets.  The blade is then bolted to the frame of the planter.  Blades are mounted in pairs and angled so that they are touching right at the point of deepest contact in the soil.  This creates a precise, v-shaped furrow.  A seed then drops down into the furrow via the seed tube, which is positioned just behind the seed opener blades.

Key features of a seed opener

The seed opener has one job: to create the perfect furrow conditions for seed germination.  This means it needs to cut through any surface trash, penetrating to the ideal depth and ensuring the furrow is clean, ready to receive the seed before being closed over again.

For this reason, there are three key features of any seed opener – precision, sharpness and durability.

  1. Precision

Precision is important during the manufacturing of the blade, both in terms of the flatness of the profile and the attachment of the bearing hub/housing.  If the steel is in any way warped, or if the housing is not absolutely centered, the blade will not run true.  This will result in unacceptable levels of ‘wobble’ in the blade when it runs on your planter.  The resulting furrow will be uneven in width, and may be unstable.  The blade will wear unevenly around the circumference, which will result in irregular furrow depth.  We test all our seed opener assemblies in-house to some of the tightest runout tolerances in the industry.

  1. Sharpness

The sharpness of a seed opener blade is vital for ensuring the blade can cut through surface trash and achieve the optimal depth for seed placement.  It’s also important where dry soil conditions are prevalent, in order to minimise the amount of downward force necessary for the blades to penetrate the soil.  This reduces drag and fuel consumption costs.  It’s also important that blades stay sharp as they wear down, so that the shape of the furrow stays consistent right up until the point where the blades have to be changed.  The length and angle of the bevel on the blade can impact on how well a blade wears down.

  1. Durability

Durability and sharpness or hardness are closely linked.  A harder edge on a blade will naturally be more durable; it will wear down more slowly and withstand hard or rocky soil for longer, which means less downtime spent changing blades and ultimately, a lower cost per acre.  The overall durability of a seed opener blade also has an agronomic impact – a more durable blade is less likely to break or crack and can cope better with tough ground conditions so again, you spend more time planting and less time changing out damaged blades.

How are Wearparts seed openers different?

Wearparts seed opener blades have some subtle difference from the standard blade specification.  These have been developed in direct response to what farmers told us they wanted in a seed opener blade, and designed to increase efficiency in the field.

You’ll notice that images of our blades or indeed sample products at your local dealership have a distinct ‘pie slice’ illustration on the face of the blade, which hints at one of the biggest differences – the fact that our blades are heat treated to achieve a harder spec on the edge.  We also offer a longer bevel, plus a larger bearing and rivets.  Let’s take a look at the key benefits of each:

  1.  Heat treated boron steel 

The heat treatment process on our boron steel seed opener blades has the effect of creating variable hardness in different areas of the blade.  Our blades have three zones of hardness as indicated by the ‘pie slice’ decals we apply to our sample products.  

During the hardening process, extreme heat is applied to the outer edge of the boron steel blade.  This causes structural changes in the carbon structures within the steel.  The hardest zone is indicated by the red section of our pie slice, which is rated 55-58 HRC on the Rockwell scale and has been designed specifically to offer a longer wear life on the ground-engaging portion of the blade.

The middle part of the blade naturally also heats up during this process, but the temperatures reached are slightly lower.  This zone is highlighted in orange, and is harder than non-treated steel, but still retains a degree of flexibility (50-55 HRC).

The inner zone closest to the hub is highlighted in blue.  This zone does not reach high enough temperatures during the hardening process for those structural carbon changes to take place, so this area of the blade remains in its natural, flexible state (49-50 HRC).  This is important because while the cutting edge is exposed to wear from the soil, the center of the blade is exposed to the highest levels of stress from the weight of the machinery and the drag of the soil, making the zone closest to the hub more prone to breakage.  Retaining the flexibility here reduces this risk.

  1. Larger bearing and rivets

Because the hub of the blade is where the greatest force is concentrated within the seed opener assembly, we’ve developed a larger hub with larger, stronger rivets.  This spreads the force over a larger surface area, reducing the risk of breakage.

We use high-quality PEER bearings for our seed openers, with the option of a split or solid inner race.

  1. Longer bevel

The bevel is the graduation of the blade edge from its full thickness (usually 3-4mm) to the actual cutting edge.  The length of the bevel on a 15-inch blade is usually somewhere around a half inch and typically, by the time the bevel is worn halfway down, the blade has become too blunt to penetrate the soil.  Our longer bevel means the blade stays sharp right up until the point where it needs to be changed and is able to maintain appropriate contact with its neighbouring blade, so you get more acres out of every pair.

To find out more about our market-leading seed opener blades, get in touch – or better still, visit your local Wearparts dealer, where you can see the difference for yourself!  Find your nearest dealer here.

You ain’t seen nuttin’: Peanut blades to maximize yields

Peanut season is well underway for farmers in the southeast, with record high yields forecast in a number of states and prices remaining favorable, hinting at a bumper crop for many producers – especially those that have invested in quality equipment to help maximize their harvest.

Groundnuts need warm weather conditions to mature, and coupled with the drought conditions commonly found across peanut-growing regions of the US, this often results in challenging soil conditions come harvest time.

In optimal conditions, a digger proceeds along the rows of peanut plants driving a horizontal blade four to six inches under the soil to loosen the plant and cut the taproot before shaking and inverting for drying.

But dry, hard soil pushes peanut diggers to the limit, making it harder for blades to cut at the required depth. If the taproot isn’t severed, roots will be dragged along by the digger and pods dislodged, resulting in digging losses. Of course, hard ground dulls blades faster, increasing the chance of losses and resulting in significant downtime caused by the need to change blades frequently in the field.

So how can Wearparts peanut blades help farmers to get more peanuts into storage, and faster?

The answer is simple: superior sharpness and a longer wearlife that makes short work of hard, dry ground.

Our aftermarket peanut blades are manufactured from boron steel for additional strength and a longer wear life, and are compatible with commonly-used peanut digging machinery including KMC and Amadas machines.

While it’s common to assume that OEM parts are always better quality, testing shows that Wearparts peanut blades are superior to their OEM equivalent, with 10% more material contributing to a lower risk of breakage and more acreage covered between blade changes.

What’s more, Wearparts offers in-house hardfacing services that further extend the wearlife of our peanut blades.

We hardface using the CMT (cold metal transfer) process, which produces a lot less heat than conventional welding processes. As a result, CMT welding does not dilute the base metal or affect its strength, brittleness or integrity in any way. The CMT process ensures consistent metal deposition from the beginning to the end of the process, which means better edge retention (blades stay sharper) and a more even wear pattern over time.

How much longer do Wearparts peanut blades last?

It’s impossible to give an average acreage per blade since conditions vary widely from state to state – and sometimes within a single farm or field. However, our own field tests indicate that farmers using Wearparts peanut blades can typically expect to get 25-30% additional wearlife compared to the equivalent OEM blades.

That means less time spend under the peanut digger changing blades, and more time spent digging rows for an optimal harvest when the time is exactly right – as it is right now, across America’s southwest.

Wearparts peanut blades are in stock and available now from dealers across the US peanut growing regions, and we offer expedited shipping for dealers needing to get stock in fast to meet the demands of this year’s harvest.

To find out more, or to enquire about becoming a Wearparts dealer, get in touch!

Fertilizer Knife 101

Growing food crops is the most nutrient-intensive of all farming practices, requiring optimal soil conditions in order to achieve the high yields farmers need to make their businesses profitable.

Before the invention of man-made fertilizers, farmers used natural methods – such as crop rotation, rotational grazing and manure spreading – to return nutrients to the soil. But as the intensity of crop farming has increased, farmers have become more and more reliant on man-made fertilizers in order to stay competitive.

Conservation tillage represents an effort to limit that reliance by incorporating some of those traditional, natural soil conditioning methods into a modern-day commercial farming model. By leaving crop residues in place and not disturbing the soil too much, natural microbial activity can restore some goodness. But it’s not enough on its own, and so farmers have had to seek out methods of soil conditioning that align with their desire to preserve the soil structure as much as possible – hence the invention of fertilizer knives!

What is a fertilizer knife?

A fertilizer knife is a non-rotary tool that is used to inject in a dry, liquid or anhydrous (vapor) fertilizer into the field. There are many different types of fertilizer knives available, offering the farmer many options in terms of depth, soil disturbance and cost per acre. These include front and back-swept styles, central and side application models, and profile/tip variations. Choosing the correct knife for your farm depends on soil type, the toolbar being used, the planned crop and its nutrient needs, the type of fertilizer being applied and the level of moisture in the soil.

Why use fertilizer knives?

Fertilizer knives are the preferred method for fertilizer application for many different reasons. By putting the fertilizer directly into the ground, you avoid issues with runoff on sloped sites, dilution due to rainfall, or evaporation of liquid product into the air. Fertilizer applied to the soil surface takes time to penetrate to the depth where it can be effectively used by germinating seeds and later, crop roots – but applying the fertilizer at depth ensures these nutrients are immediately available to the young plants.

Using fertilizer knives also creates optimal conditions for seed germination by breaking and lifting the compaction layer without turning over the soil surface.

How are fertilizer knives used?

Fertilizer knives can be fitted to a toolbar or cultivator in either a bolt-on or auto-locking format. The farmer can have a cultivator with the same number of shanks at the same spacing as his planter or an odd number of rows depending on the application. Even rows mean that the fertilized furrows will eventually align with the seeding furrows during planting season for optimal results. The tip of the fertilizer knife penetrates the soil and the foot then fractures and lifts the compacted layer to create an aerated furrow. A tube to the rear of the knife shank delivers fertilizer into the furrow, and then a wedge-shaped closing mechanism that catches the edge of the furrow and closes the soil over.

Which knife is used for which fertilizer type?

Besides what fits your specific machine and soil type, you’ll need to select the right knife for the type of fertilizer you want to apply. Anhydrous ammonia (NH3) for example, needs to be applied deeper than other fertilizers because of its hazardous nature – you don’t want it escaping into the air, so you need a knife that penetrates to a depth of 8 or more inches. A narrower tube also ensures more accurate and safe application.

For liquid fertilizer, application is at a similar depth, but a wider tube will be required. For dry fertilizer, an even wider tube is needed but a shallower depth is optimal – a backswept knife may be preferable if soil conditions allow. Knives may also be equipped with two different tubes for simultaneous application of more than one fertilizer type, or for the addition of fungicidal and insecticidal treatments.

Wearparts Fertilizer Knives

We carry fertilizer knives to fit all types of applications, with alternatives to almost every branded blade on the market including Wako, Wiese and more.

We offer tube sizes of 3/8” OD & ½” OD, thick walled tubes for increased life; chrome tubes available on most knife models. Dual tube knives also available. Foot profiles of the narrow 3/8” wide to a mole style knife with a 1-7/8” wide foot piece are available. Optional chrome inserts are available on almost every knife for longer life and durability. Sealers are also available. Our NPD department is currently in the process of developing knives for anhydrous and backswept specifications – stay tuned for details on these and more product innovations coming soon at Wearparts!

As with all our products, you can expect high quality manufacturing and a durable, fit-for-purpose product at a competitive price. We currently have excellent stock levels, with immediate shipping available on many of our fertilizer knives. To find out more or to inquire about becoming a dealer, get in touch!

**we have all coulter options available for fertilizer knife systems as well**

Fertilizer applicator outfitted with Wearparts fertilizer knives and coulter blades