The rich soil along the Missouri River holds big-yield possibilities — but it doesn’t always give up its bounty easily.
“What the river gives, the river can take away,” says Steven Ewert who produces corn and soybeans near Liberty, Mo., with his brothers, Mark, Scott and Gary.
The Ewerts have done a ton of work to get the most out of their ground, including laser grading and installing 20,000 gpm pumping stations along the levee. A more recent addition to their arsenal of equipment is a 45-ft. Kelly Diamond Chain Harrow.
“It does about the prettiest job of making a seedbed you’ll ever see,” Steven reports. “It’s the first truly revolutionary tillage tool I’ve seen in a long time.”
The Kelly Diamond Harrow isn’t just a seedbed preparation tool, though. The Ewerts also count on their Kelly for residue management in the fall. “We want to get those corn stalks on the ground where they can start rotting,” Steve notes. “The Kelly is great for that. It does a nice job of very evenly processing residue.”
The model used by the Ewerts utilizes aggressive 35-degree concave cast steel blades that weigh 47 lbs/ft. The unit’s diamond configuration means the chains are drawn across the field at an angle to fill ridges and smooth the land with evenly spread residue on the surface.
Smooth and even surface tillage is exactly what the Ewerts are after.
“With a field cultivator it’s hard to control depth across the entire width of the machine,” he explains. “With the Kelly, you can’t work too deep and it’s going to be even all the way across. It doesn’t leave ridges at all and it does a great job of leveling the ruts out. It doesn’t bring up wet soil like the field cultivator and since the depth is constant, you never pull-down. And it just walks right over logs and rocks.
“I don’t think we’ll be using the field cultivator much now. Besides being faster, easier on fuel and doing a much better job, you get a lot of parts wear with a field cultivator. With the Kelly, we expect maintenance to be next to nothing.”
Ewert Brothers Farm has a range of soils from sandy to fairly heavy. The Kelly works well across all soil types, they say. On the heavier ground, a trip with the Kelly effectively opens up the surface to allow drying — and timely planting — but it doesn’t pull up slabs or clods. The moisture remains below the fluffed surface two inches for better seed germination.
And with a lot of acres to get across, the Ewerts appreciate the Kelly’s low draft and operation speed. “At 8 to 9 miles per hour, and 45-ft. width, you can get across 300 acres a day pretty easily,” Steven says. “We pull ours with a Challenger 85E track machine and that’s a lot more tractor than you really need but it has auto-steer and the Kelly and auto-steer are a great combination — it’s a very productive tool and the auto-steer makes it even more productive.”
An added bonus to the Kelly’s performance is weed control. “It’s a lot more aggressive pulling out weeds than we thought it would be,” Steven says. “Even though it’s only working a couple of inches deep, it really does a great job.”
The Ewert brothers are all about optimum production on their west central Missouri farming operation and the Kelly Diamond Chain Harrow is one of the tools they rely on to accomplish that. Profitable production is their goal but it’s kind of nice to get compliments from the neighbors once in a while, too.
“People stop and ask what we’ve worked that field with — it looks like a pool table,” Steven concludes.
“The Kelly’s the real deal and I think you’ll see a lot more of these machines in the years to come.”