Profitability arguments for Variable Depth Tillage (VDT)


Variable depth tillage (VDT) refers to a tillage approach where processing depth is adapted to determined soil parameters and other estimations. The adaptation takes place site-specifically and continuously, and ideally even in real-time.

Types of soil cultivation (use of VDT)

a. Strip-till: the common strip-till approach is based on the strategy of reducing the impact on soil, thus avoiding erosion. Soil structures and thus water holding capacity are to be improved/maintained and operating costs reduced. By taking into account soil texture and compaction, different tillage strategies are optimised in implementation.

b. Strategic tillage: this relatively new variant based on occasional, event-specific soil treatment with a general abdication of soil processing. Again, VDT can be used to make the procedure as gentle as possible while still achieving the strategically desired effects.

Cost savings by using site-specific cultivation

The economic efficiency of VDT can be quantified most clearly in terms of fuel savings.

Even an average reduction in tillage depth of 5 cm can mean a substantial saving on large farms with more than 2,000 ha and single tillage. With two tillage passes and a significant reduction in tillage depth, a Topsoil Mapper pays for itself within 2.5 years even on 500 ha farms. On average, when using VDT (with strip-till), a reduction of the working depth of 8-10 cm can be expected.

In addition to these fuel savings, the tractor and the implement are better conserved, thus extending their service life. Furthermore, work rates can be increased by 25% without a raise in operating speed. The resulting economic benefits depend on the respective cost structure.

TSM soil cultivation strategies

Based on the studies and practical tests of recent years, three generic soil cultivation strategies have been implemented in the TSM. These can also be inverted or „over ruled“ by the user when he has additional information about the field:

Shallow Cultivation
Flat soil tilling for clayey soils respectively increased erosion protection due to a higher residue rate.

Sub soiling
Deep soil treatment on sandy soils and for breaking up deep, compacted areas.

Depth Contour
In this soil treatment, the breaking up of compacted soil layers shall be avoided.

Further details on the TSM strategies will be published in the article „Implement control“.

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