Attacking machinery

Vladimir Berdik, Head of Snigiriovskiy branch of “Nibulon” company in Nikolayev region, knows that the guarantee of a good harvest includes not only the weather and quality seeds, but also the right picked plow and harrow - with a verified angle of attack.

As a specialist I encountered agricultural machinery for the first time after graduating Nikolayev State Agricultural Institute in 1999. I started working as an agronomist in the household of my native Voznesenskiy district. The first impressions, to put it mildly, were sad. It was, in fact, a backward collective farm that worked on explicit scrap metal equipment – a Soviet tractor T-150, an almost dead “Don” combine and “twisted” Soviet cultivators, which had not been updated for years.

I frayed my nerves and got on the mechanics’ ones when we were trying to set up a 30-year-old seed drill with a rigid frame, when it was impossible to set the depth. And nearby – literally through the forest plan to pass – there was the field of “Nibulon” Pribuzha branch. And it was trotted by second-hand German “Fendt” and other imported machinery. There were also domestic seeders, but brand new ones.

We looked at our neighbors with envy. “Nibulon” had already been popular – it was investing money in equipment and specialists, and we in our collective farm received salaries in grain or Korean TVs purchased on barter, as it was often the case in the 1990s. Therefore, thinking briefly, I just decided to go through the forest plantation – to “Nibulon”, where I was hired as a simple agronomist. Two years later, the company developed even more and began purchasing only imported machinery, including LEMKEN equipment.

Snigiriovskiy branch of our company has been working with LEMKEN Diamant reversible plows for 13 years, almost as long as I have worked in “Nibulon”. During all this time we did not do major repairs. We only change the working bodies, which periodically wear out.

The quality of plowing us is more than satisfactory – incomparably better than the domestic equipment. Yes, the reversible plow is reversible: the field turns out to be more aligned. And you do not have to walk around in circles, starting from the center of the field, as we did before. These reversals gave huge losses of time and fuel. In a few words, LEMKEN Diamant has two sides – from above and from below. The tractor reaches one straight line from one edge of the field to another and simply throws the working parts to the other side – it almost does not lose time on reversals. This increases production – Diamant perfectly aggregates with Case and Fendt tractors and covers up to 40 hectares without changing the mechanic. And this is just one moment. Each operation, depending how well it is carried out, gives us profit.

LEMKEN plow has a reinforced frame that can withstand our soil loads, and we sometimes plow 30 cm in depth – the “German” has large dumps. In general, all the working elements of Diamant are made, unlike the Ukrainian ones of reversible plows, of high-grade durable steel. We somehow tried to save money and supply LEMKEN with domestic and Chinese plowshare – we have such technicians. Well, Ukrainian plowshares are worn out after 100 hectares, and “Chinese” ones even after 10 hectares. The original LEMKEN plowshare endures 2000 hectares. So we realized that such saving money was not a proper way. The quality of plowing falls, the quality of work decreases, and the final result – the harvest – depends on them. Each kind of processing must be profitable. If we spend $5 on technology, in addition to the return of this money, we must earn minimum a dollar on it.

We were watching other LEMKEN products for some time – the price was rather high. Lemken Rubin 9 disc harrow was purchased only a couple of years ago. Before that, we had the harrows of one of the French manufacturers, but we were advised to buy LEMKEN, and we agreed. It would seem costly, but the result surpassed all expectations. And we do not regret spending a lot of money. There is no comparison with Ukrainian machinery in general, and Lemken is unlikely to be compared with another imported equipment. This is like heaven and earth. LEMKEN is the winner in this competition.

First and foremost, the large 620 mm 6-inch, 6-mm thick cubic hemispherical disk, Rubin 9 provides excellent depth and quality of field processing. At a depth of 7 cm a solid soil treatment can be achieved. The unit has technological features that simplify maintenance and repair. On other harrows, to replace the main working tool – a disk or its bearing, – it is necessary to remove all the shafts from the eight-meter one. Here, each disc is mounted separately. And this can be done right in the field, rather than hurrying to the base, as it was done before in such cases. But we have never lost these bearing joints.

Bearing joints use axial angular contact ball bearings requiring no additional service. They do not need to be constantly lubricated and regulated, which significantly reduces maintenance costs for a harrow. The optimum protection of bearings from dust and moisture from outside is provided by a threaded cap, and from the inside – by a six-way cassette seal. The special shape of the bearing housing serves not only against wearing, but also from winding.

We had to replace disks as consumables. LEMKEN service works with German punctuality. The central office of “Nibulon” does it, not us, but I know that LEMKEN logistics centers operate around the clock throughout the year. Employees of the company are as hard-working as their equipment.

The secret of the high quality of land cultivation with the harrow of Rubin 9 is in its design. It would seem apparently everything is simple, there is no electronics, the tractor driver only controls the hydraulics of the harrow from the cockpit. But the unit scheme itself was created as if it were an engineering genius. The harrow discs are relatively large and therefore have a large amount of wear compared to small, other brands. But not only the size matters. Lemken “daisies,” as they are called by machine operators, have a special angle of attack. I’m sure that a large group of scientists worked hard on this angle. This is a delicate matter, and we like what they give in the end.

LEMKEN harrow works as if in three dimensions at the same time, while the others – only in two, so they do not provide such a solid and deep soil treatment. Let’s have a look. I can freely tear up the ground that Rubin just walked to a depth of 12-14 cm. This horizon reaches the root of the future germ, provided that the seed lies in a depth of 5-6 cm. Under the same soil moisture Lemken is working the soil 2-3 cm deeper than other harrows. This is very important for the development of the root system – the more powerful it is, the better the harvest is. The harrow uniformly mixes the soil with the remainder of the stubble and, at the same time, compresses it. The grain falls in such a soil with a shallow fraction as on a featherbed, and around it there is no empty space, as after other harrows, when the grain has no contact with the soil and it is long and difficult for it to germinate.

After LEMKEN processing sometimes even a cultivator is not required. The grain has already an excellent pillow, that is, it will grow better – shoots will be denser. Thus, better conditions for wintering and in the end – a better crop. The consolidation of soil with a harrow in our zone is also a prevention of wind erosion of the soil, because our winds are too strong. For comparison: a year after the beginning of the use of LEMKEN harrow, wheat harvest in Snigiriovskiy branch almost doubled: from 78,300 in 2014 to 139,500 in 2015. There was no such record in Nikolayev region even in the time of the USSR. Our branch has taken the first place in “Nibulone”.

Of course, 2015 in these lands was in general distinguished by an unprecedented harvest – the great role was played by excellent weather conditions, there were a lot of rains. But the German machinery also contributed its clever mechanisms to this. The harrow in fact creates the foundation for the harvest. Here is a spring of suspension brackets – it would seem to be a simple piece on the frame of a harrow. It provides, on the one hand, uniform pressure on the soil, and on the other hand – protection. If a disk floats on a stone, it simply jumps over it.

Look how much soil is covered with LEMKEN parts. Other drives would already be clogged, but this continues to work. This is an indicator that it is irreplaceable on heavy soils. We are interested in timing of the work. Because when this field dries, and we will begin to harrow it, then by the end of the work the next field will be generally dry. As a result, the production of LEMKEN harrows is up to 120 hectares per day. For us, this is quite a worthy indicator.

And yet –we have a significant fuel economy, especially in conjunction with a German tractor: up to 1.5-2 l/ha. If another foreign harrow requires from a tractor 7 liters per hectare, Rubin 9 from LEMKEN requires 5.5 liters on average. For example, last year LEMKEN covered 5,000 hectares saving 7500 liters of diesel fuel.

Under the same conditions Rubin can do one trace when the French harrow does two. A large role in this is played by a rolling device, which is not available on another harrow. After two rows of LEMKEN rollers passing through the ground, we even sowed immediately once, without a cultivator.

Although this is not recommended, but in that case we were pushed by the deadlines. We could not leave the field for a month because of a downpour. In such extreme cases, this harrow is used for speed as “two in one”.

When comparing two LEMKEN units we are working with, today for us a harrow is more important than a plow. With it we process 70% of our areas under winter crops, because the main culture of our branch is wheat. And the plow stands only for 30%. It is used only one month a year – in autumn. We need plowing for sunflower and sorghum. The harrow is used in our work almost the whole year. Another task is assigned to it – to keep humus for a whole year.

Frequent plowing destroys a 10-centimeter layer of soil with the main microorganisms, and it has already been abandoned in Europe today. Other technologies are used like mini-till, no-till, minimizing costs, apply deep loosening.

We will also order a deep ripper – and also from LEMKEN. Although we cannot completely refuse to plow in our area, so the Diamant plow will still serve us, hopefully, not one year. It is believed that LEMKEN is Mercedes in the world of agribusiness.

In total last year, “Nibulon” – by the way, one of the largest consumers of LEMKEN technology in Ukraine, – bought another four plows and four eight-millimeter LEMKEN harrows. The price of each unit is not less than 50 000 euros. And in 2017, the company plans to buy another six Rubin 9 units. In total, “Nibulon” engages more than 60 plows, 15 cultivators, 10 sprayers and four harrows of the German brand.

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