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31’ Speedtiller Powerflex

31’ Speedtiller Powerflex®

By K-Line Ag
Published on
The newest addition to the ever expanding range of K-Line machines is the 9.5m (31’) Speedtiller Powerflex®. This is the second size available in the Powerflex® configuration.

Following the tremendous success of the 12m (41’) Powerflex®, the K-Line Research & Design team busily worked on this smaller machine – which was released to the market early this year after passing its final testing with flying colours!

We delivered the first 9.5m Speedtiller Powerflex® in early March to a local farmer, who did 4000 acres with it in the first 2 months. Pictured above, the Powerflex® demonstrates its exceptional ground following ability as it goes through a sharp contour. Designed to hug the ground no matter what the terrain, the farmer gets an even finish the whole way across the paddock!

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6 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Buying a Compact Disc

By K-Line Ag
Published on

In the tillage equipment industry, there are lots of options for farmers. And because tillage equipment is an investment that impacts the rest of their operation, farmers tend to do a lot of research before they make a purchase. This is a good thing! We talk to farmers every day about equipment specs, field applications, design, and a thousand other topics. We want the farmers we talk with to have the best information possible about our equipment and the competitive tillage equipment market, so they can feel confident when they make the decision to buy from K-Line Ag.

But we also hear a lot of stories from farmers who switch to K-Line Ag from other tiller lines. Inevitably, they start the conversation with “I wish I’d have known…” So, we’ve gathered the wisdom of thousands of farmer-driven conversations into this single resource, this “I wish I would have known…” guide to buying a compact disc.

1. Ask for a Field Demo

It’s easy to talk the talk, but you want a machine that will do what the salespeople tell you it will do. That said, ask for a field demo before you buy. Run it through its paces. See it on the ground, doing the things it’s supposed to do. Watch for bounce. Watch for stubble incorporation. Look for clumping. Test disc penetration depths. And trust your gut. If the marketing doesn’t match the performance, look elsewhere.

2. Think About Transport Width

Tillage machines are getting bigger and heavier in response to the increased use and availability of high-horsepower tractors. But while it’s good to have a wide footprint in the paddock, don’t forget that implement needs to have nice road manners – crossing bridges, meeting traffic, and ducking overheads without hogging the road. We’ve heard of way too many farmers who forgot about machine dimensions when purchasing their tillage equipment, and found the machine was too wide to access certain paddocks, or cross bridges on country roads. Talk about buyers’ remorse!

3. Focus on Functionality

Nothing on a farm is ever static, even the paddocks. Conditions are constantly changing, crops are in rotation, and the weather can make a nice easy field into a sticky mess in no time flat. Having a tillage machine that gives you the ability to maintain function across changing field conditions is essential. This is one of the top decision-makers for many farmers who choose a K-Line Ag Speedtiller®. The farmer-driven design of our DUAL MODE OPERATION means operators can control disc depth, addressing issues of ground penetration, eliminating machine bounce, and varying roller packing as needed.

4. Go for a Versatility and Efficiency Double Whammy

You’re buying a compact disc because you’re looking for versatility in your paddocks and efficiency in your entire operation. To make sure you’re getting the most machine for the money, make sure it’s able to check all the boxes:

  • Weed Control

    The discing action has to be sufficient to disrupt weed germination cycles, expose weed roots, and help manage weeds in combination with your chosen herbicide plan
  • Stubble Incorporation

    The discs should effectively size and distribute crop residues across the machine’s footprint and into the top layers of soil
  • Fertilizer or Manure Incorporation

    The disc can effectively handle and disseminate spread fertilizers, and can size and distribute broadcasted manure applications evenly and without clumping
  • Single-pass Finishing

    The finishing roller gang needs to create a seedbed ready to seed into. It should both smooth the disruptions produced by the discs, and prepare the soil adequately for immediate direct seeding.

If a machine doesn’t have satisfactory performance on these key features, it means you’re sacrificing either versatility or efficiency – or both!

5. Minimise Maintenance

Maintenance on tillage equipment isn’t usually a main buying consideration, but there’s a definite cost of ownership involved with machinery, and a compact disc is no exception. Servicing bearings and replacing discs constitute most of the time and expense. Choosing a piece of equipment that maximises your usable hours while minimising your maintenance windows can create noticeable efficiency improvements for time-sensitive tillage work.

Bearing breakdown, either due to broken seals or worn components, can stop a machine in its tracks. K-Line Ag discs feature a labyrinth-style, multi-seal bearing housing designed to be “bulletproof” in strenuous field conditions. It is the heaviest designed bearing on the market, which allows the machine to work longer between scheduled maintenance stops.

The same extended working time is the driving force behind K-Line’s large 24” discs. These discs provide an added 4” of wear, allowing for more time in the paddock and less time in the shed changing discs.

6. Don’t Settle for What’s on the Surface

Just like you look under the bonnet of anything with an engine, it’s a good idea to look under the soil’s surface to judge the performance of a compact disc. Agronomists warn tillage users to be wary of below-surface ridging. This is where misaligned disc blades can bypass lines of soil and create strips of compaction below the soil.

In order to get better control of your sub-soil quality and combat subsurface compaction, K-Line Ag has designed a QUICK-ADJUST LATERAL DISC POSITIONING system. This lets operators quickly and easily adjust the alignment between the disc gangs. This eliminates ridging, reduces disc wear, and eliminates bounce on planting and seeding equipment.

While you can’t know everything there is to know about compact discs, it’s good to have some insight into the questions to ask and the product differentiators to look for. You’ll end up a happier, better informed buyer in the long run.

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A Little Bit of March Madness

By K-Line Ag
Published on

Holding Product Demo Days is a great way to introduce a little March Madness (the good sort)!

We held two demo days in March 2019, together with Cowra, Forbes and West Wyalong Machinery Centres. These days offered a great chance for local (and not-so local) farmers to view ripping and tillage demonstrations, be among the first to get a glimpse of new K-Line Ag products, and check out a range of New Holland tractors. Its a great opportunity to see our products working in real conditions in the paddock, rather than just displayed in a showroom. Add that to a free lunch, prize giveaways and the opportunity to meet the teams from CMC, FMC, WWMC and K-Line Ag in person… it’s not much wonder these days were a rounding success!

Cowra Demo Day: March 19

Cowra’s Product Demo Day on March 19 was a Ripper of a day! A very welcome few mm of rain the night before settled the dust, which made the demos much more pleasant for onlookers. We had a great turnout of local farmers and others who had travelled from further afield.

Throughout the day we ran a number of product demonstrations: a Speedtiller Powerflex®, 7-tyne MaxxRipper®, and our ‘soon-to-be-released’ SpeedChisel. Watch for this exciting new development to be launched later this year – sign up to our eNews to make sure you get first dibs!

3 lucky attendees came up trumps with our demo day prize draw. Congratulations to Lawrence Parrish of Canowindra, Gary Amos of Cowra, and Tim Johnstone of Woodstock!


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West Wyalong Demo Day: March 22

A few days later, the teams headed out to West Wyalong, ready to roll again. It was great to meet the team at West Wyalong Machinery Centre, the newest dealership on board with Forbes Machinery Centre Group. Being a relatively new area for K-Line Ag equipment, this was an excellent opportunity to show our machinery to local farmers and agronomists on their own turf.

The day was off to a great start as the teams and early-bird farmers watched a beautiful storm roll in, bringing with it the desperately needed rain. The dark clouds and the smell of rain put a grin on everyone’s faces… and made for some hasty team work saving the tents from blowing away (check it out below)!



Once the storm had passed, we got on with the product demos. The ground was incredibly hard; it had been flooded a few years ago and then had cattle on it, making for severely tight compacted ground: a great opportunity to demonstrate what K-Line Ag machines are really made of. There’s a reason we build them tough, and build them to work in tough Australian conditions! We ran the MaxxRipper® first to loosen up the compacted ground, and then demonstrated the ability of the Speedtiller Powerflex® to create a beautiful level seedbed.

Congratulations to the lucky winners of the West Wyalong product demo prize draw: Peter Morton of Stockinbingal, and Andrew Forsyth of West Wyalong!

Fab Feedback

For those that haven’t been to one of these field days, they are a must-do. There’s no obligation, you come and you watch and you can have a ride in the tractor, you can walk around the different machinery. And you can also talk to other farmers that have these machines, and get their opinion not just K-Line’s opinion which is really important.

Andrew McCullough | West Wyalong Machinery Centre


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Thank you for your valued support!

We’d like to thank everyone who attended both product demo days for their support; it was great to catch up with some familiar faces, and meet other new ones! We hope you enjoyed the day as much as we did; make sure you follow our social media pages to keep in touch about future events near you. Plus, make sure you check out our Events page for the next events on the K-Line Ag horizon.

To the teams at Cowra, Forbes and West Wyalong Machinery Centres: many thanks for your help to host both days, and for all the work behind the scenes that went into it. Thanks to FarmPix Photogaphy and Brett Naseby Creative for snapping some great footage of both events. And thanks to Andy Smith of Cowra, and Mark & Kylie Warner of West Wyalong, for generously lending us their paddocks for the day!

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Australia’s K-Line Ag Officially Launches U.S. Company and New Speedtiller® Powerflex®

By K-Line Ag
Published on

Australia’s K-Line Ag Officially Launches U.S. Company and New Speedtiller Powerflex® at National Farm Machinery Tradeshow, Louisville

K-Line Ag, global leader in agricultural machinery and technology, announced their official launch to mainstream dealerships of its subsidiary company in North Dakota and its newly designed Speedtiller Powerflex® in the United States, the latest innovation in its Speedtiller® line. To mark its U.S. market debut, the K-Line Ag subsidiary company will be present at the National Farm Machinery Tradeshow, February 15-18, in Louisville, KY to discuss the unveiling of the Speedtiller Powerflex®.

K-Line Ag has been present in the US and Canada since 2012, with machines being successfully trialled and proven in field and now in operation throughout the country. With the official launching of this operation, K-Line Ag now offers its state-of-the-art equipment to the North American and Canadian farmer and dealership markets.

“As a family of farmers, we not only understand the agricultural industry from first-hand experience, but have a deep-rooted passion for it,” said Bill Larsen, Director of Sales and Marketing at K-Line Ag. “By opening a U.S. operation and continuing to manufacture industry-leading equipment such as the Speedtiller Powerflex®, we hope to revolutionize the farming industry and make tilling more efficient for farmers worldwide.”

The new Speedtiller Powerflex® is the award-winning flagship of K-Line Ag and incorporates highly advanced and field-proven features with the existing Speedtiller advantages. This dual-purpose machine was designed and built for superior performance in all soil types and conditions, allows for maximum weed-cut, a smoother field finish, and more consistent sizing and incorporation.

Equipped with 31 separate 24-inch discs, the Speedtiller Powerflex® is designed to accommodate the needs of large-scale farmers and custom operators seeking efficiencies in today’s challenging agricultural environment. Ideal for sizing, mixing, and incorporating high residue crops in corn, beans, and cereals, the Speedtiller Powerflex® features a heavy-duty disc arm for a maximum digging capacity of up to 348 pounds per disc, power down wings, and rubber suspension rollers with dual float and fixed working modes. The dual operating mode allows the tiller to operate in Full Float Mode for undulating fields and terrace following, or Non-Float Mode, allowing the tiller to go further in soft, wet, or sandy soils.

Some of the key advantages of the Speedtiller Powerflex® include:

  • Unique ability to vary disc and roller pressure on the go
  • Handle greater range of diverse soil types
  • Increased digging capacity – digs like an offset in hard soils
  • Far superior performance in soft, wet, or sandy soils
  • Less machine damage in rocky soils
  • Proven for heavy trash incorporation
  • Simple machine setup with hydraulic on-the-go adjustment

About K-Line Ag

A family-owned and operated company, K-Line Ag was founded in 1993 by Richard Larsen and is the leading global manufacturer of agricultural machinery and technology. Headquartered in Australia, the company manufactures heavy duty lines of farm machinery, including Speedtillers, Trash Management equipment, CropCommanders, Harrows & Bars, Turf Mowers and Hay Rakes.

In 2012, the company established a subsidiary company in North Dakota, thus making its high-end machinery accessible to farmers in the North American and Canadian markets. Under the direction and leadership of the Larsen family, K-Line Ag has transformed from a two-person company in 1993 to a market-leading international business in 2016.

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Case Study: Soil Solutions & Deep Tillage Equipment at Young NSW

By K-Line Ag
Published on

Getting your soil right is one of the most important tasks for any farmer, and ‘plough pans’ of compacted, dry soil are regularly encountered across the often drought-stricken Australian continent.

David McMillan knows this all too well. McMillan’s property in Young, New South Wales is a mixed operation with stud cattle and lambs, as well as various grain crops. Dry, compacted soil affected by decades of ploughing and planting needs to be carefully worked to allow moisture back in, which in turn allows roots to grow deeper.

Read the full article HERE

View them in Action!...

Across his property, McMillan has been using deep tillage equipment; the K-Line Ag Speedtiller in combination with the heavy duty MaxxRipper® ground-breaking tool, to get his soil to the right consistency and balance. Recently, K-Line used his property for a demo day of the two products.


Further Reading

Read the full Farms & Farm Machinery article HERE

Read our recent blog article on Soil Compaction & Deep Ripping

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Control Those Summer Weeds

By K-Line Ag
Published on

A potential problem looms

Uncontrolled heavy weed growth during the summer fallow period can reduce the yield of the next crop by robbing following crops of available soil nitrogen; depleting the soil of stored moisture and reducing crop emergence due to the physical and/or chemical (allelopathic) interference at seeding time.

Controlling summer weeds early will conserve valuable soil nitrogen and moisture for use by the crop during the following season. Growers have gained an average farm crop yield increase of up to 400 kilograms per hectare with consistent summer weed control.

If left uncontrolled, weed burdens of 2.5 tonnes per hectare can cause a loss of available soil nitrogen and burdens of more than 3t/ha can reduce following wheat yields by as much as 40%.

Chemical control of summer weeds

Growers using zero-till or conservation tillage practices commonly treat emerging weeds with chemicals. Chemical control of weeds is also common in conventional tillage systems.

Summer weed control can be expensive but is necessary to prevent problems with excessive growth and/or moisture and nitrogen loss from the soil. When using post emergent herbicides:

  • Water rates should be kept high (at least 60 litres per hectare).
  • Add a surfactant and/or spraying oil unless otherwise directed on the label.
  • Do not spray stressed plants.
  • Spray grazing can be effective at high stocking rates.
  • Glyphosate, 2,4-D, metsulfuron, atrazine and triclopyr are the most common herbicides used for summer weed control.
  • Where summer grasses are present, glyphosate at rates around 2L/ha are generally required.
  • Metsulfuron provides cheap control of wireweed, triclopyr is generally preferred for melon control and atrazine for small crumbweed (also known as mintweed or goosefoot).
  • 2,4-D controls a wide range of broadleaved weeds and is preferred if stock are available for spray grazing. The ester formulations are usually more effective for summer weed control.
  • Moisture stress in weeds is common in summer and reduces the effectiveness of most herbicides. This can be partially overcome by spraying early in the morning. However at this time of day, inversions may be present which could lead to excessive drift. Avoid spraying during still conditions.

Monitor for problem weeds

There are a number of weeds that are likely to present challenges over the coming summer period. The challenges lie in the fact that some of these weeds are spreading through cropping districts to a greater extent, and second, most seriously, some are showing resistance to herbicides.

The weed species likely to cause problems this summer in the major cropping districts are Feather Top Rhodes grass, melons, wire weed, and fleabane.

Let’s briefly consider each in turn.


Fleabane (Conyza spp.) seeds normally germinate at 20°C, so greatest germination occurs in spring and early summer. Following rain there is an initial rapid germination of seed. The seed bank can last for over three years.

Research suggests that most fleabane seeds germinate from the soil surface with very few seeds germinating from below 1cm. This suggests that the recent fleabane problems are made worse as a result of the switch from conventional to minimum tillage systems. These low disturbance tillage systems are less likely to bury seeds below 1cm depth and provide moist conditions for better emergence of seeds that germinate on the soil surface.

Fleabane may often germinate in spring and early summer prior to harvest. Once the crop is removed, the fleabane has no competition for light or moisture and can grow rapidly, especially with further summer rain. By the time there is a window for control, the fleabane are often mature, with a high tolerance to most herbicides.


As is the case for most weeds, fleabane plants can most effectively be controlled with chemicals when they are emerging, mainly in early spring while they are still small. Small fleabane plants are relatively easy to kill and a late post-emergent application of some Group 1 (phenoxy) herbicides during spring can control them in cereals.

Mature fleabane can be difficult and expensive to kill, especially in mid to late summer. Strategic tillage should be considered as an option to chemicals, but if herbicides are the best choice, trials indicate that the best control of large fleabane in stubble used a ‘double-knock’ approach with a range of primary herbicides followed by paraquat 7-10 days later.

The most effective treatment was an application of glyphosate (540g/L) at 2L/ha or a mixture of glyphosate (540g/L) at 2L/ha and 2,4-D amine (625g/L) at 2L/ha with a follow up spray of paraquat at 2L/ha seven days after the initial treatment.

Feathertop Rhodes grass

Feathertop Rhodes grass (Chloris virgata), with its distinctive seed head, is steadily travelling across the country. Its prolific seed production and ability to withstand herbicides makes this weed difficult, but not impossible, to control.

The key is to concentrate on preventing seed set. Feathertop Rhodes grass seed is relatively short-lived in the soil, so with a dedicated focus it is possible to run down the seed bank reasonably quickly.

This requires an integrated and intensive management approach; there are no silver bullets for easy management.


As mentioned, for successful control, seed set must be stopped or minimised to break the life cycle and reduce future weed burdens.

Large weeds (>10 cm, tillering or with seed heads) are very difficult to kill with knockdown herbicides.

Small, actively growing weeds (< 5 cm, pre-tillering) should be targeted when using post-emergence herbicides.

The double-knock tactic is very effective, particularly with a Group A herbicide followed by a Group L herbicide. The knock interval should be at least 7 days for maximum effectiveness; adding residual herbicides to the second knock may improve the Group L knockdown.

The effectiveness of pre-emergence herbicides (residuals) can be maximised by applying them when the soil surface has very little or no weed cover.

Escapees and survivors should be monitored and spot treated as soon as possible.

Strategic tillage, to bury seed or control large plants, has a role to play. Removing mature plants by cultivation can be very effective. Burial of seed below 5cm can also reduce emergence and this seed will lose viability within about 12 months (providing it is not subsequently returned to the soil surface by further tillage).

While an effective cultivation may bury the vast majority of seed, there is always a small percent of seed remaining at the soil surface in the preferred germination zone. If something is not done to prevent these seeds from germinating and establishing, then the cycle recommences.

A plan should be in place to manage these subsequent germinations via either tillage, knockdown or residual herbicides.

Competitive crops and cultivars should be planted, and narrow row spacings and high crop populations used where possible.

Commitment to two summers of 100% control of Feathertop Rhodes grass should deplete the seed bank in the soil.


Paddy melon (Cucumis myriocarpus) and Afghan melon (Citrullus lanatus) are both prostrate annual melons germinating in spring and summer. Their growth is favored by good moisture relations and bare or fallowed paddocks. Horse, sheep and cattle losses have been associated with eating the melon but the smell of the plants generally makes them unpalatable.


Grazing is an effective control method after applying low rates of a hormone herbicide to make the melons more palatable.

Another example for melon control in summer might be a mixture of triclopyr, 2,4-D and metsulfuron in the early morning when plants are not stressed. Graze heavily five days after spraying. Increase rates if grazing is not possible.

Prevention of seed set by mechanical removal is feasible on small areas.

Integrated management the key

As you will note from the examples above, many weeds are showing resistance to commonly used herbicides.

To deal with this problem, an integrated management approach should be adopted. This involves having a number of tools in your spraying and cultivation arsenal that you can use as the occasion and weed species demands.

Departments of Primary industries and research and advisory agencies can provide detailed advice on just how each of the resistant weeds should be dealt with.

Common grassy weeds that are showing resistance to Glyphosate are:

  • Annual ryegrass (Lolium rigidum)
  • Annual veld grass (Ehrharta longiflora)
  • Awnless barnyard grass (Echinochloa colona)
  • Barnyard grass (Echinochloa crus-galli)
  • Barley grass (Hordeum spp.)
  • Brome grass (Bromus spp.)
  • Crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis)
  • Crowsfoot grass (Eleusine indica).

In most cases, an important tool in an integrated management approach is strategic tillage. Choosing an implement that enables chopping and burying of mature weed plants before seed set, and/or burying weed seed to depths that hinder germination are features that you should look for in a tillage implement.

Two implements that effectively deal with a summer weed problem and also handle carryover stubble are the Speedtiller® by K-Line Ag and its smaller brother, the K-Line Ag Flexi-Mulch®. The Speedtiller® is a high-performing, high speed dual purpose disc-tillage machine that will efficiently cut, size and incorporate high levels of mature or emerging weeds as well as crop residue. Both have the flexibility and adjustments to suit most trash burdens and soil conditions. Soil erosion from wind and water is drastically reduced by the excellent incorporation ability of these implements.

The Flexi-Mulch® is designed specifically for multipurpose use in mid-sized farming operations with 70 to 125 horsepower, 3PL tractors. Both machines are fitted with a crumbler roller that leaves the soil with an even, level tilth, ready for sowing the next crop.


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Controlled Traffic Farming in the Wet

By K-Line Ag
Published on

CTF is the way to go

The main feature of CTF is to limit traffic by agricultural machinery to defined areas, rather than across the whole paddock. Traffic is confined to permanent wheel tracks - limiting compaction to those tracks, while the rest of the seedbed remains undisturbed. The best way to implement CTF is to develop a unique system that fits your own farm, your machinery configuration and circumstances.

Benefits of controlled traffic farming

Implementing a system of CTF will allow more precise operations that separates a paddock into distinct zones. The benefits that this allows are as follows:

  • Less energy is needed for seedbed preparation when driving over the compact traffic lanes which can result in an average saving up to 25% in fuel.
  • Improved soil structure through reduced compaction, resulting in improved water holding capacity.
  • Generally less herbicide and fertiliser is used by managing paddocks in ‘zones’ of similar soil types (and reduced costs from less overlap due to more accurate driving). Herbicide use is reduced by removing double sprayed corners, with less chance of herbicide drift into remnant vegetation and waterways.
  • Reduced tractor capital; firm permanent tramlines and softer soil between tramlines reduce power requirements.

All these benefits will result in improved crop yields. An added benefit of CTF is that if you are renovating your soil to reduce subsurface or seedbed compaction through deep ripping, soil will continue to remain loose and friable for many years after natural ‘settling’ as soil is not being trafficked back to its original compacted state.

CTF and wet soils

In most parts of the cropping zones of south-east Australia, this year has been exceptionally wet. While the benefits of CTF have proven themselves by having a firm base for farming operations, paddocks have suffered from deep rutted tramlines this year due to machinery travelling over wet conditions throughout the winter and spring.

Continuing wet conditions, and indeed flooding in many areas, also promise a difficult harvest. We are going to see a lot more deeply rutted tramlines from the haul grain carts and the heavy harvesters. Paddocks this harvest are already starting to become a mess.

Restore your cropping land

Those wet soils will eventually dry out, and there will be a good store of subsoil moisture ready for the following crop. But how to renovate those rutted and water compacted soils?

Fortunately, K-line Ag has the machinery to recondition those damaged cropping soils.

In severely rutted soils with extensive areas of compaction, deep ripping may be the answer. K-line Ag has a range of rippers designed to break those deeply compacted soils, restoring structure and drainage to the subsoil, with minimal disturbance to the topsoil.

Which now leaves the topsoil to be reconditioned.

The TrackAttack® by K-Line Ag is specifically designed for CTF. This machine will level out wheel tracks, ruts and uneven terrain. The alternate rows of discs cut through the ground, loosening and moving the soil onto the tram-line, then the crumbler roller follows behind breaking down the soil and cloddy dirt. This leaves the tramline with a flat and even weed free surface, making it easier and smoother for equipment to pass.

But what if the tramlines and bog ruts are even more severe, as they promise to be in many cropping areas this year due to heavy rainfall?

This is where K-Line Ag’s Speedtiller® provides the solution. The Speedtiller® will do a full cultivation of the paddock, moving soil about to fill ruts and hollows; and levelling the paddock for a fresh start for the following crop or pasture.

And after a flood

Many paddocks will have suffered flood damage after constant rain. Exposed and washed soil will be compacted and rendered almost structureless. Again, this is where K-line Ag can offer solutions. The range of rippers and the versatile Speedtiller® are best suited to these conditions, and can restore the soil structure in time for next season’s crop. Better times are ahead!


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Don’t Leave Your Yields Out in the Cold

By K-Line Ag
Published on

Cold season in Australia means the susceptibility of paddocks to encounter frost events increases. While frost potential in the southern half of the country and in Tasmania can extend to cover over 150 days per year according to some government models , the reality of frost events is more nuanced than a simple map’s predictions.

Frost events are highly localised and vary dramatically. While temperature is a factor, frost is also dependent upon topography, with low-lying areas called frost pockets or frost hollows being more prone to frost events. The likelihood of frost is also based upon non-temperature-related factors like cloud cover, humidity and surface winds. Clear skies, high humidity and still winds are the perfect conditions for a frost event, but vary even one of those factors and even low-lying areas could avoid frosts. The resultant frost damage has long-term implications, particularly for yields on wheat and cereal crops during the next growing season.

Since managing ambient environmental factors is outside of the control of farmers and crop producers, avoiding frost damage to paddocks is usually limited to mechanical means – tarps, sprinkler systems, and other interventions – and even those are difficult to enact over large areas. But government and university research suggests that stubble management can have far-reaching impacts for plant growth and crop yields in growing seasons to come.

Heavy stubbles, especially stubbles from pulses with excess vegetation like those from the 2020 growing season, can have an adverse reaction on the ground’s ability to fight off frost events via ambient ground and moisture controls, even into subsequent growing seasons. Soil serves as “heat sink” or “heat bank,” absorbing radiant heat – or longwave solar radiation, in scientific terms – from the sun and moderating to air temperatures during the day and releasing that latent heat during the evening/non-sun hours. This rising warm air forms an important barrier between surface crops and the cooler air descending from the atmosphere.

Thick, heavy stubble impedes the soil’s ability to absorb radiant and ambient heat. Since stubbles are “dead” carbon (as opposed to soil’s “living” environment of microorganisms) sitting on top of the soil profile rather than integrated into it, they act as shade, blocking sun, reducing the amount of heat the soil can absorb, and trapping too much moisture due to lack of evaporation. In the hot months, moisture evaporation can be a concern, but during cooler months with frost potential, trapped moisture and cooler air create greater potential for issues. The cooler temps exacerbated by high-stubble paddocks mean slower development of plant biomass, delayed flowering, slower or reduced tillering, and less well-developed heads.

Managing frost potential with past-season stubbles is largely a matter of re-sizing and integrating the stubbles into the soil as residues with mechanical interventions like the K-Line Ag Trashcutter® or the multi-tillage and integration tool, Speedtiller®. Doing so allows the stubbles-turned-residues to provide “best of both worlds” benefits – better soil quality and erosion control due to the presence of organic matter, and better heat sinking and moisture evaporation qualities due to more exposed soil.

While environmental factors like frost are an unavoidable aspect of topography and the vagaries and capriciousness of weather, managing stubble loads can make a frost event less impactful for future yields.

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Farms Work Best on Good Tucker

By K-Line Ag
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Few people can eat like farmers. When your day starts at sun-up and runs well past sun-down, it takes some energy to keep moving. And we all know that good fuel helps us perform our best. Our bodies metabolise it more efficiently and we work and feel better as a result.

We all like this good tucker, because it helps us meet our energy and performance needs. The same thing holds true for soils. Feeding them “good tucker” in the form of retained and incorporated residues gives them the fuel they need to support proper plant development during the next growing season. Similarly, with the good tucker provided by residue incorporation, soils can enrich themselves! This minimises their need for extra nutrients and undoes damage caused by poor soil conservation practices.

Increased Humus Levels

Reduced tillage correlates to a direct increase in soil humus levels, because it provides a more suitable environment for the decay of organic matter and the mineralisation of plant residues. Reducing tillage altogether, however, does not meet this issue. It’s the tillage action which brings about the residue incorporation necessary to put the nutrients down into the soil.

The Solution: Strategic Tillage (you can read more about strategic tillage here). More humus means more retention of nutrients, a better overall soil profile, and less need for additive nutrients.

Increased soil humus levels also provide higher concentrations of soil organic carbon (SOC). Higher levels of SOC increases the activity-level of beneficial soil microbes, as well as the diversity of those microbes. This improves fertility, overall soil profile, and water-holding capacity[1].

Residue Incorporation

Getting benefits of retained residues into the soil is one place where multi-function implements like the K-Line Ag Speedtiller® shine. Surface residues decay faster when they’re smaller, and the discing and trash-cutting components of the Speedtiller turn even the toughest maize stalks into smaller, more easily-compostable pieces. Faster decay means faster mineralisation of key nutrients, and earlier bioavailability of those nutrients to the next season’s crop. Some estimates put the rate of mineralisation by crop residues at 1/4 to 1/5 of the plant’s demand during peak growth, so faster mineralisation means better early growth in new crops[2].

Quality Seedbed Preparation

Seedbed preparation can be difficult in high residue soils. Soil surfaces with high residues are rough with retained stalks, root balls, and other detritus. However, good germination depends on the ability of the seed to remain in contact with moist, nutritive soil and is usually accomplished best in smoother soil.

Striking the balance between retaining valuable residues from a previous crop and meeting the seedbed needs of a new crop is another situation where the Speedtiller® excels. It allows farmers to address both the soil and the incoming crop needs with its multi-functional approach. The Speedtiller processes residues into small, easily integrated pieces, leaving a smooth, prepped seedbed surface and a high-residue, nutrient-rich humus to drive seed germination and growth.

Reduced Chemical Resistance

Soils with high residual organic matter from previous crops can create a barrier to new weed seed germination. Similarly, light tillage and residue incorporation with an implement like the K-Line Ag Speedtiller® can disrupt weed seed banks, delaying or eliminating germination or stunting weed growth. In this application, tillage can function as a mechanical means of weed control. It minimises the need for chemical controls and thus reduces the possibility of chemical resistance in local weed populations.

While we people realise that eating better improves our own performance, we as farm producers and managers need to recognise the correlation between this concept and the health and performance of our paddocks, soils and crops.


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From the Trenches: Combatting Ryegrass in the War on Chemical Resistant Weeds

By K-Line Ag
Published on

What’s more certain than finding saltwater in the ocean? Apparently, finding ryegrass in your paddocks! In our survey of Australian farmers conducted by K-Line Ag throughout July and August this year, ryegrass presence and herbicide resistance were a recurring theme. Nearly every respondent that addressed the survey’s weed herbicide resistance questions mentioned ryegrass in their response. This was a strong indication of the prevalence of the problem, and the difficulty of finding a suitable answer to address it.

3 Ways to Control Ryegrass and Weeds

1. Think Site of Action to Combat Herbicide Resistance

Australia’s not alone in the battle against chemical-resistant weeds. Most countries with industrialised agriculture struggle with local variations of the same problem. However, according to the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), Australia ranks an inauspicious second in the world for its number of herbicide resistant weeds[1].

Like so many other common weeds in Australia (fleabane, wild radish, milkthistle, windmill grass, liverseed grass, and barnyard grass are some of the most often-reported throughout the country), ryegrass earned its noxious reputation by foiling some of the most popular herbicides on the market. While resistance site of action varies by region, some sort of ryegrass with herbicide resistance exists in every Australian state. The International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds keeps a comprehensive assessment of all resistance types by state, including what site of action/class of herbicide resistance is found in each location[2]. Knowing what types of resistance are prevalent in your area and adjusting your strategy around those resistances can help increase your chances of success.

2. When Possible, Fight Pre-Emergence

Getting ahead of weeds’ emergence from the soil has historically been one way to combat their chemical resistance[3]. By attacking the plant at its most vulnerable growing point – germination, when the plant uses the limited energy resources of its encapsulated endosperm to push new growth out from the seed coat – pre-emergent herbicides sabotage the plant’s ability to access the enzymes they need to fuel their first-stage growth. When effective, pre-emergent herbicides block plants from ever recovering that expelled energy through photosynthesis as they normally would, which finally desiccates them.

However, the efficacy of pre-emergent herbicide application is waning. Pre-emergent herbicide resistance is also a growing problem in all Australian states, according to a 2018 news release by GRDC[4]. Surveys conducted this year showed multiple resistances, including to combinations of herbicides from the D, J and K Groups. Managing ryegrass is therefore becoming increasingly dependent on non-chemical means. This includes strategic tillage with implements like the K-Line Ag Speedtiller®, or with the implementation of a diversified weed control programme.

3. Try Tickling

One of the most popular methods for tillage-based mechanical weed control is shallow cultivation, or autumn tickling[5]. Autumn tickle is a shallow-depth tillage that pushes the weed seedbank to germinate earlier. This ultimately depletes an area’s weed seed reserves, by allowing knockdown herbicides or other mechanisms to control them. The Speedtiller® is uniquely well-suited to this weed control method, because it features a dual-mode operating system that controls weight, pressure, and operating depth with a series of lever- or hydraulic-action adjustable components.

Even with a fully adjustable tillage implement like the Speedtiller®, not all weed types or situations respond well to autumn tickling. Only those weeds who are easily disturbed from dormancy, like ryegrass, are good targets for this approach. Similarly, not all soil types respond well to autumn tickling either. Sandy and non-wetting soils are not good candidates for this type of weed control.

The ryegrass resistance issue isn’t a simple fix, and it’s not an issue that is going away. Effectively combatting ryegrass in the future will require the development and implementation of an integrated weed control strategy. These strategies will work best if they minimise the use of herbicides. Instead, use a combination of chemical and mechanical methods to control, disrupt and eliminate weeds and their seeds.


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Getting Up to Speed with a Speed Disc

By K-Line Ag
Published on

Like all successful business people, farmers and contractors understand the need for their investments to supply adequate financial returns while also providing non-monetary value in improving the efficiency, speed, operation or other aspects of their business. Identifying investments that overlap in the financial and operational rewards categories can net big gains for farms of all sizes.

One such implement with multiple value propositions for the modern farmer or contractor is the K-Line Speedtiller®. When compared against other speed discs for sale from other manufacturers, the quality of design, the benefits of use, and the durability of the construction are second to none.

Soil Improvements

Speedtillers are designed to function with single-pass operations under a variety of paddock conditions and with special consideration for soil conservation. Operators can shift the implement’s weight forward and back to adjust to special paddock conditions (undulating fields or contours) or soil needs (variable pressures for soft, wet or sandy soils). This variability means operators can use a Speedtiller® in conditions where other implements fall short – in non-wetting soils, after heavy rains, when converting pasture or fallow to tillage, or even in some frozen conditions following snow or frost.

The Speedtiller’s® variability is part of what makes its usage ideal for conserving soil. With its purpose-built trash management controls, the Speedtiller® provides protection for soils against wind and water erosion by allowing for better soil residue integration. The entire implement provides better trash flow to the field because of its active torsion system and custom-designed disc arm. These features mean the Speedtiller® keeps rolling when other machines might be hung up on trash or surface debris. As it rolls down the paddock, Speedtiller’s® angled discs undercut the soil, lifting it to alleviate compaction issues and to provide greater sub-soil moisture retention.

Operational benefits

The Speedtiller’s® most immense cost savings come from having one high-value implement doing the work of two. The disc’s dual-purpose design, featuring a two-gang disc followed by an on-board roller for soil finishing, eliminates the need for a separate disc and finisher – one Speedtiller® does it all!

Fuel usage is another category where the Speedtiller® shines. Because it combines two machines into one and requires just a single pass to complete most tillage tasks, the Speedtiller® can reduce fuel consumption 2-3X for some uses. Similarly, the implement’s large footprint and ability to toggle between a full float and non-float mode means it adjusts to the soil needs in that locations, saving fuel on fields where a deeper till isn’t needed.

The Speedtiller’s® unique design features are meant for harsh conditions and difficult soils, but they’re also designed with frequent, heavy use in mind. The Speedtiller’s® engineering provides low long-term cost of ownership for the machine while also helping owners manage the time and personnel costs of daily and seasonal maintenance needs.

By combining operational savings with intrinsic benefits of use to the soil and conservation practices, the K-Line Ag Speedtiller® brings impactful cost savings to farm operations.

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How To: Set up your Speedtiller Powerflex®

By K-Line Ag
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The Better the Setup, the Better the Job!

Ensuring your Speedtiller® is correctly set up is imperative to ensuring it performs as it should.

This video leads you step-by-step through the best way to set up your Speedtiller Powerflex®. The model displayed is a 6.25m (21′) Powerflex®, but the setup is the same across the Powerflex® range (although the machine will look slightly different in other sizes such as 9.5m [31′] or 12.5m [41′]).

Use the chapters down the right-hand side of the video to skip to particular steps if required.

Every piece of K-Line Ag equipment is supplied with an Operation and Safety Manual which operators should be familiar with and adhere to at all times, but the tips in this video will help you get started.

Speedtiller® Operator's Manuals

If you have any questions or need further technical support, don’t hesitate to give us a call! Freecall: 1800 194 131

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Integrated Pest Management (IPM) – Plan Now to Get Ahead of Pests

By K-Line Ag
Published on

While more producers have begun to understand the soil-building benefits of stubble retention and reintegration, they have also seen significant changes on how these soil management practices impact the types of pests they combat in their paddocks. Low or no-till systems and stubble trash reintegration build soil profiles by adding humus, minimizing erosion events, and boosting moisture retention.

However, these same soil-boosting benefits also provide an advantage to two tough winter grain crop pests – mice and snails. Recognizing the impact of these pests on cereal crops, and understanding their life cycles and ideal growth conditions, can help producers combat their effects. Building an integrated pest management (IPM) paddock plan that includes light, strategic tillage and stubble management can help keep pest numbers down and reduce their impacts on oilseed and cereal crop yields.

Life Cycle Disruption

Life cycle disruption is an effective way to control many types of pests, including crop damaging mice and harvest machine-clogging snails. For many producers, understanding the life cycles of snails and mice is the first building block to minimising their impact and building a successful management plan.

Warm, rainy spring/summer seasons are ideal for both mice and snails to breed and populations to grow. They both thrive in weedy, heavily vegetated ground, so controlling weeds in paddocks not only helps with crop growth and yield, but with managing pest populations as well.

Food Source Disruption

Another key step in pest management is for producers to know what types of crops are a draw for the pests. Mice thrive on less than 3g of food per day, so excess grains that are lost from a harvester header can provide an easy and attractive buffet for a huge colony of mice. According to Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) turning over the top of the paddock using light tilling will destroy the food supply on the paddock surface and set the paddock back to zero[1].

Similarly, emerging canola crops are a favourite target of snails. Control thresholds for round snails in canola are just 5 animals per square metre[2]. Producers attempting to minimise the snail population and subsequent damage to their canola crops should employ a life cycle or habitat disruptive pest management practice ahead of seeding their crop.

Habitat Disruption

Stubbles do a lot of good for soils, but they also provide a wonderful place for rodents to hide, and a cool, moist place for snails to live. Mechanical disruption of habitats via trash or stubble management techniques can significantly impede snail and mouse population growth.

Working stubbles into the ground, or cutting surface trash into smaller pieces, reduces the habitat mice need to not only procreate, but also to evade predators. Mice’s predation risk increases significantly after even a light to moderate tillage event.

For snails, stubble management tillage on a hot, sunny day – ideally, a hot, sunny day followed by a succession of similarly hot and sunny days – is perfect for bringing hidden snails to the surface and allowing the sun and temperatures to desiccate (dry out) their bodies. Mechanical kill rates for snail populations with this approach can reach between 50-90 per cent kill[3].

Adding light, strategic tillage to your integrated pest management plan can produce noticeable results while helping to retain crop stubbles and reduce the need for costly pesticide options.

Start planning your tillage requirements now. Take a look at K-Line Ag’s range of Speedtillers.

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Managing Stubble After ‘The Wet’

By K-Line Ag
Published on

2021: A challenging year

Where crops were able to be harvested, the high yield potential of these crops meant that there were large volumes of straw to deal with, and header fronts were lifted up to try to increase harvester output, resulting in tall stubble and unevenly chopped and spread straw which could create problems for the following crops.

The challenges of harvesting in a prolonged wet season don’t end with getting the crop off. Farmers are faced with the question of how to deal with the large bulk of stubble.

This year’s stubble: friend or foe?

The benefits of stubble retention are well known, but this wet season presents a particular challenge to those farmers who see the benefits, but face a dilemma in how to manage the sheer volume of residue.

Managing high stubble loads requires careful planning to ensure effective sowing during the following season.

The amount of stubble left on the paddock, the nature of the stubble and the amount of stubble that sowing machinery can handle, all determine how to manage stubble after harvest.

Some of the problems created by crop stubble include:

  • Blockages in the seeders causing downtime and poor establishment.
  • Stubble height and volume can both restrict the progress of following machinery.
  • Establishment in a dry season can be difficult where the straw doesn’t break down.
  • Sowing problems (hair-pinning with disc drills and blockages with tined machines under adverse/ wet conditions).
  • Problems with wet seasons, increasing the risk of slug, snail and pest problems.
  • Uneven straw and chaff spreading can lead to poor establishment leading to stunting and yellowing (resulting from reduced availability or uneven uptake of nutrients). Nitrogen deficiency may show up in the following crop.
  • Large volumes of residue can lead to poor weed control in the following crop due to the interception of residual herbicides by crop residue.
  • Reduction in overall crop performance (yield loss).

There are a number of options available to manage stubble, including grazing with livestock, slashing, mulching or harrowing and strategic burning. Burning may be the easiest, but is not always the most profitable treatment.

Let’s consider the benefits of retaining that stubble:

  • Increases in soil water and plant available water (PAW)
  • Decreases surface crusting (slaking) and subsoil (sodic) issues
  • Increases in organic carbon percentages
  • Increases in soil biological activity
  • Decreasing soil erosion potential
  • Improved soil air and pore spaces for better plant root exploration
  • Decrease in off-site leaking/loss of nutrients and pesticides
  • Potential increase in the amount of available energy for grazing animals.

Burning the stubble will also have the following negative impacts:

  • Potential off-site issues
  • Increasingly frowned upon by the community
  • Valuable carbon and other nutrients including nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and sulphur literally go up in smoke. Approximately four kilograms of nitrogen are lost with every tonne of wheat stubble burnt.

On balance then, it is far better to retain and manage the stubble than to get rid of it. But how to best deal with the bulk of material? The choice of machinery used to deal with the stubble will have important implications for the following crop and the health and stability of the soil.

To retain or incorporate stubble?

That question really presents two ends of a wide spectrum of choices. If all the stubble is retained, that has implications on how you will sow into the standing stubble. If the stubble is completely incorporated, will that affect the ability to seed the next crop and will the soil organisms handle the bulk of material that is high in carbon, but likely to be lacking in nitrogen?

These are questions that can be only answered by individual circumstances and by considering the versatility of machinery available to handle the stubble. Fortunately, machinery is available to adapt to a variety of conditions and stubble loads.

A machine for all seasons

The Speedtiller® by K-Line Ag is a high-performing dual purpose disc-tillage machine for incorporating stubble and trash while at the same time conditioning the soil with good penetration. Ideal for high-speed disc tillage, it can efficiently cut, size and incorporate high levels of crop residue into the top 75mm to 100mm of soil. Handling not only surface trash, the discs destroy any standing weeds that are an inevitable result of high soil moisture levels from this year’s wet finish.

By leveling the soil surface as it goes, ruts, bogs and machinery tracks can be eliminated in a one-pass operation, leaving the soil ready for sowing. Soil erosion from wind and water is drastically reduced by the Speedtiller’s excellent incorporation ability.

K-Line Ag’s Speedtiller® is designed and engineered for farmers, by farmers, to withstand the harsh conditions of Australian agriculture. The ability of the Speedtiller® to operate under extreme conditions with a simple, robust and advanced design is what makes it the ideal machine to handle this year’s challenging post-harvest conditions.


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Mechanical Remedies for Non-Wetting Soils

By K-Line Ag
Published on

Non-wetting or hydrophobic soils are an increasing issue throughout districts in WA and SA, posing a conundrum for farmers. To grow crops, simple things are needed: a matrix, some moisture, sunlight. But what to do when the seemingly simple pieces of the farming equation repel one another? It’s a question that has “absorbed” both farmers and scientists for nearly 100 years.

Traditional methods for combating non-wetting soils in Western Australia and South Australia have been mechanical in nature. These efforts were led by the mouldboard plough, which provides the deep penetration needed to find and incorporate more clay-based soils into the non-wetting profile. However, utilising a mouldboard plough comes with distinct disadvantages, particularly with the susceptibility of fine sandy soils to wind erosion and the increased tendency to lose surface moisture due to incomplete soil mixing and decreased organic matter integration.

Recent Implement Developments

More recent implement developments have attempted to address the shortcomings of mouldboard ploughing as a mechanical solution for non-wetting soils. Rotary spaders have assisted with the issue of soil mixing, but have been less successful at addressing the other concerns with erosion controls and residue incorporation. Without solving these companion issues, farmers have found their soils to be less hydrophobic post-spading, but more moveable and less rich, due to the absence of residues within the matrix.

Following spaders with additional passes utilising other tillage pieces has some benefit, but creates an entirely new set of challenges. Additional passages mean longer seedbed preparation times, decreased productivity, and increased instances of compaction. This last is of particular concern, as recently worked soils are disturbed more deeply into the subsoil profile and thus more susceptible to static and vibratory compaction at deeper levels.

New Advancements

New advancements in tillage technology have led to multi-function tillage implements that can help farmers solve both the primary non-wetting soils complaint and the secondary concerns about residues, erosion and compaction. Implements like the K-Line Ag Speedtiller® perform multiple mechanical processes on the soil in a single pass, eliminating the concern of secondary-pass subsoil compaction. An initial row of mounted lateral discs dig deeply into the soil, pulling more clay-based soils to the top for integration. Then finishing discs and roller chop and incorporate residues, leaving a smooth finish. This provides both a prepped seedbed and a well-integrated soil stratum of hydrophobic and clay soils with interspersed organic residues. When required working depths are 6-7”, this combined soil end product addresses both the primary and secondary issues of non-wetting soil remedies.

Non-wetting soils are a matter of fact, and a force of nature. But with the mechanical implements obtainable in the agricultural market today, there are remedies available that address the issue without creating new issues.

Speedtiller® Research in Non-Wetting Soils

A crop after Speedtiller® usage, yielding 3 tonnes/ha. Comparatively, on the right, with no Speedtiller® pass, the yield was half. Results may vary depending on seasonal conditions.

This diagram shows results of research with the K-Line Ag Speedtiller® in non-wetting sand in Western Australia. This image shows a crop after Speedtiller® usage, yielding 3 tonnes/ha. Comparatively, on the right, with no Speedtiller® pass, the yield was half. Results may vary depending on seasonal conditions.

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Releasing our Latest Model: 6.25m Powerflex!

By K-Line Ag
Published on

It’s official – our newest model Speedtiller Powerflex® is now available in Australia! With an operating width of 6.25m (20.5ft), this model embodies all the award-winning Powerflex advantages in a smaller machine. The smaller operating width means it suits smaller tractors, making it available to more Australian farmers.

Watch the 2 minute video below!

Combining all the Powerflex Advantages you know about…

  • Selective Dual Mode Weight Transfer System
  • Wing Down Pressure
  • Quick Adjust Lateral Disc Positioning
  • Proven Extreme Duty Disc Arm & Hubs
  • Roller Shock Protection

…in a smaller model to suit more applications!

The smaller size machine suits a lower horsepower tractor, making this machine a great option for all farming operations. Ideal for cotton and mixed vegetable growers! Its narrow transport width makes for simple road travel & easier accessibility on the farm (no more squeezing through those gates!)

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Tried & Proven

It’s been successfully trialled and running in the US for a year, and has passed in-field testing in Australia with flying colours.

Download the new Powerflex Brochure

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Releasing our Latest Model: 8.25m Powerflex!

By K-Line Ag
Published on

The newest addition to the ever expanding range of K-Line machines is the 8.25m (27.06’) Speedtiller Powerflex®. This is the fifth size available in the Powerflex® configuration. it is ideally suited for the high end front wheel assist, 300 horse power+ tractor range of 8.25m giving it a true 8m working width, excellent for 8 row cotton configuration.

Powerflex Advantages

  • Selective Dual Mode Weight Transfer System
  • Comes complete with wing land wheels giving it excellent contour following in uneven terrain
  • Heavy duty tillage tool for most tillage applications
  • Fill a niche for the 350 horse power front wheel tractor range
  • Quick Adjust Lateral Disc Positioning
  • Proven Extreme Duty Disc Arm & Hubs
  • Roller Shock Protection

Yes I'd Like Some More Info On This!

Tried & Proven

It’s been successfully trialed and has passed in-field testing with flying colours. Click below to watch the video of the 8.25m Speedtiller Powerflex®.


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Rip Deep to Keep Moisture

By K-Line Ag
Published on

If Australians have learned anything from the weather of the last few years, it should be that moisture needs management. It is never a given, and rain come in many forms, from too little to too much. Ensuring soils are prepped and ready for rain events and moisture collection can mean the difference between a great crop, a good crop and in the worst case, no crop.

Combatting Compaction

Deep ripping can be particularly useful on sandy soils, especially in instances where soils have been subject to years of repetitive compaction. Compacted soils compress soil particles together[1]. The act of compression decreases pore space – the area between soil particles that allows water and air to reach under the surface. Pore spaces are critical not only to the movement of moisture to plant roots, but also to the decomposition processes build soil richness and humus. Yield losses due to compaction in just Western Australia are estimated at nearly $800 million per year[2], as determined by research by the Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia (DAFWA)

Deep ripping re-establishes pore space by breaking up compaction and providing pathways between the surface and sub-surface areas of the soil profile. Breaking up compaction to improve moisture retention is best accomplished by utilising a standard ripping point, which allows for deep separation of compacted soil particles, also called “shatter,” without disturbing valuable organic matter on the soil’s surface[3].

Mixing Profiles

Another way for deep ripping to improve a soil’s moisture retention capacity is when it enhances mixture between differing soil layers. In heavily stratified duplex soils, where sandier soils are layered over deeper clay soils, moisture penetration can suffer[4]. While moisture might run freely into the sandier top layer soils, it can be stopped short by moisture-resistant clay soils. This can keep moisture from reaching optimal root depths, stunting plant growth and impeding seed development.

Using a cast wing point while deep ripping can cut through soil stratification and invert soil profiles, mixing soil types for better water penetration and overall moisture retention.

Yield Improvement in Small Grains and Legumes

Deep ripping on grain paddocks with sandy soils has repeatedly been shown to improve yields, and much of this improvement can be traced back to moisture availability. By increasing the pore spaces between soil particles, deep ripping brings moisture into the soil while simultaneously providing space for roots to develop. Additional root space in wheat crops translates into increased tillering, and studies in Western Australia and Victoria have shown yield increases of 25-40% following deep ripping treatments in sandy soils. Similar increases have been shown in legumes like chickpeas[5].

Root development produces additional yield by not only increasing seed development, but also by increasing standability. Pore spaces and good root systems help moisture and air move between soil levels and through to the plant. This movement keeps moisture from stagnating around under-developed root systems, preventing lodging and producing more harvestable stalks.

Opportunistic Ripping

Another chance for producers to improve moisture retention through ripping is less easily characterised, but still important. Opportunistic ripping is the process of following a significant out-of-season rain event with a deep ripping pass. Opportunistic ripping creates pathways for newly deposited surface moisture to reach the subsoil. Without ripping, this moisture would otherwise remain on the surface, eventually evaporating back into the air with minimal impact to long-term soil moisture quality for next season’s crops. ,p>The methodologies for application of deep ripping to a soil and moisture management plan are complex, but the ability of the process to significantly impact retained moisture are too valuable to overlook. Capitalizing on opportunistic moisture and increasing retained soil moisture over time are management practices that translate to improved yields and money in the bank.

The methodologies for application of deep ripping to a soil and moisture management plan are complex, but the ability of the process to significantly impact retained moisture are too valuable to overlook. Capitalizing on opportunistic moisture and increasing retained soil moisture over time are management practices that translate to improved yields and money in the bank.

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Running down Feathertop Rhodes

By K-Line Ag
Published on

It’s a rapidly growing problem. Literally. Meet Feathertop Rhodes grass (Chloris virgata)[1]: an exotic tufted annual grass with a feathery appearance that grows up to 1m tall -- and fast. It’s both resistant to herbicides, and a rapid seed producer. It’s tough to run down, but not impossible.

The weed first gained a foothold in the north, thanks to the shift to low tillage production systems, and has now spread across the south and west, moving rapidly along roadsides where its seeds blow over boundary fences. It looks like we’re stuck with it, but we don’t have to let it dominate...

A short-lived victory

Every species has a weakness or two. And with Feathertop Rhodes, its small and short-lived seeds do it no favours. The key is preventing seed set[2]. The weed flowers within three to four weeks of germinating and will keep producing seeds as long as there’s moisture in the soil.

But the good  news is, most of the seeds germinate after the first rain, and observations by growers and agronomists[3] show the seed bed has a lifespan of 18 months -- so with a dedicated attack on the seed bed, you can run it down within a couple of years of well-timed tilling.

Root out the problem

A second weakness for Feathertop Rhodes, is its roots system. While the weed can look quite bulky above ground, there’s actually very little support below the surface -- so a strategy of speedy and shallow cultivation can work wonders when applied in the dryer seasons.

The Speedtiller® by K-Line Ag is a high-performing, heavy duty adjustable speed disc for maximising weed control. It’s also good for soil conditioning with superior water penetration and it can incorporate high levels of crop residue, increasing your soil’s carbon content.

With machine sizes up to 15.5m, Speedtiller’s advanced design puts it in a class of its own. And puts weeds like Feathertop Rhodes in their place.

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Strategic tillage a winner in no-till cropping

By K-Line Ag
Published on

What is strategic tillage?

Conservation farming and no-till cropping are now widely practised by the majority of Australian farmers. Most importantly, this approach preserves soil structure, making for less erosion, better moisture penetration and infiltration and improved soil conditions for plant growth. Retained crop stubble can add to the store of soil carbon.

But no-till or zero-till farming can introduce some drawbacks, and strategic tillage seeks to overcome these. The question is: will strategic ploughing cause long-term damage to the soil structure that no-till has sought to improve?

Why use strategic tillage in a no-till system?

A number of research trials have sought to answer this question. Problems with no-till can arise from weed species developing resistance to common herbicides; soil acidity buildup; a deficit of nitrogen in the top soil layers and the possibility of fungal diseases building up on the stubble. Retained stubble can become habitat for mice and slugs and each of these issues can adversely affect following crops.

Some potential advantages of strategic tillage include integrated weed control for weeds that are developing resistance to key herbicides, and the incorporation of lime to depth on acid subsoils. Tillage can also address mice and slug buildup in residue.

Studies throughout the cropping zones show few short term and environmental costs from strategic tillage. Concerns include destruction of soil macro-and micro aggregates that can lead to water erosion and loss through dust. There is no doubt that soil macro-aggregates (larger groups of soil particles with large pore spaces) are temporarily damaged by cultivation. And dust (which is the micro-aggregate portion of soil) can also be lost if conditions allow.

But the research consistently shows that these changes are temporary. Soil physical, chemical and biological fertility in the surface layers (0–20 cm), as well as crop growth and yield were monitored for 5 years.

Trial results give a ‘thumbs up’

The results of several long-term trials suggest that strategic tillage can be a useful strategy to manage limitations of NT systems. Tillage at the right intervals can give benefits such as short term yield improvement, greater profitability and reduced reliance on herbicides.

Soil carbon is certainly reduced initially by tillage, but recovers to previous levels after two years. Soil aggregates were reduced in the top 0-5 cm of soil, but these also recovered within 1-2 years after tillage. Soil pH, total carbon and nitrogen that were confined to the surface layer of soil were redistributed more evenly through the topsoil and remained that way for the 5 years of the trials.

Crop yields of strategic tillage and no-till treatments during the 5 years of the experiment remained the same. Overall, the minor short-term negative impacts on soil structure, the definite beneficial effects on soil chemistry and biology, and absence of impacts on crop production suggest that strategic tillage can be a valuable agronomic tool in sustainable production in many cropping and mixed farming enterprises.

Choosing machinery for strategic tillage

Trials suggest that in most cases, there were no great differences between various strategic tillage implements. In north-eastern Australia, most growers use non-inversion cultivation based on tyne and disc implements. It seems that the type of tillage is less important than the frequency. And in an otherwise no-till cropping program, tillage can be used to address specific issues such as weed control or stubble buildup or allow for deep nutrient placement. Tyne tillage lifts and shatters the soil, removing shallow compacted layers for in-crop weed management, deep placement of nutrients and breaking up hard pans. Disc tillage cuts and mixes stubble and soil clods to leave a fine tilth, considered effective for reducing disease and pests and weed management during the fallow period. Discs are useful for incorporating either lime or gypsum. Both tillage operations are shallow as compared to mouldboard tillage which is seldom used in farming these days.

K-Line Agriculture produces two machines specifically designed to carry out the operations described here: the Speedtiller® and Flexi-Mulch®. The Flexi-Mulch® is the smaller brother to the Speedtiller®. They are both high performance disc implements designed to efficiently cut, size and incorporate high levels of crop residue. Soil erosion from wind and water is drastically reduced by their excellent incorporation ability.

K-Line Ag’s Speedtiller® penetrates soil at the ideal depth and cuts to the desired disc angle. The high-speed discs allow for better trash flow and incorporation, while simultaneously lifting the soil for less compaction. This effectively improves the quality of the soil and helps maximise crop yields.

The Speedtiller® handles heavy residue with ease, moves the soil with a set of fully adjustable offset discs, and the trailing roller bar is an excellent finishing tool for levelling and one-pass seedbed preparation.

The right machine, the right time

Strategic tillage is an invaluable tool for no-till cropping programs. Timing of cultivation has a major impact on the success of any tillage operation.

Soils differ in their reaction to tillage, and there are a number of factors to take into account when deciding if and when to cultivate a no-till paddock. These factors include:

  • the amount of trash or stubble present. This will govern the amount of chopping and incorporation required;
  • the weed burden, weed history, and the likelihood of herbicide resistance;
  • soil type. The most common soils of the cropping zone, Vertosols, are resilient to one-time tillage, while soils with texture contrast (Sodosol) and weakly structured A-horizons (Dermosol) are likely to suffer more temporary damage in the first 3 months of cultivation;
  • soil moisture at the time of tillage. You will want to avoid the risk of soil smearing, compaction and aggregate breakdown;
  • the amount of stored moisture available for plant establishment;
  • the need to incorporate soil amendments such as lime or gypsum. Both need to be incorporated to be effective.

Fortunately, the tools for a flexible program of strategic tillage are on hand. K-Line Ag’s Speedtiller® and Flexi-Mulch® disc tillage implements allow farmers to design a strategic tillage program to meet the conditions they need for success. These machines, designed specifically for Australian farms, can fulfill the needs for a successful strategic tillage operation, producing the benefits of occasional cultivation without cancelling the advantages of a no-till cropping program.


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Strategic Tillage For Conservation Farming

By K-Line Ag
Published on

The future is in your hands

There are huge benefits to conservation farming, not least being less soil erosion, better soil structure, increased soil carbon and a build-up of beneficial soil microbes. Reduced tillage leads to great savings in machinery costs and time, but a greater reliance on chemical control of weeds.

Over time, weed resistance to common herbicides will arise, and some type of tillage is required to break the cycle of weed growth and seed-set. This is where a tillage implement like the K-Line Ag Speedtiller® can play a role. This is a classic example of a machine built specifically for Australian conditions. An added benefit of the use of the Speedtiller® is its ability to incorporate lime into an acidic soil where mixing into the topsoil is essential for successful growth of pH-sensitive seedlings. Lime can be very slow acting, and a poor investment unless it is incorporated.

The use of tillage in conservation cropping must be strategic. In the southern cropping regions of Australia, tillage should be left as late as possible to conserve soil moisture and minimise the risk of erosion. In the northern cropping zones, where both winter and summer cropping is common, the timing of tillage is important to take account of the risk of storms and the storage of soil water. It has been demonstrated that a one-off pass with tillage machines such as the K-Line Ag Speedtiller® will do little damage to soil aggregates and infiltration rates.

The benefits of tillage in conservation farming

Research over many years has proven the strategic tillage such as experience with the K-Line Ag Speedtiller® in a conservation farming system can have the following benefits:

  • Agricultural lime, which has poor solubility, can be incorporated to improve its effectiveness.
  • Levelling of the soil surface for small seeded crops with offset discs followed by the roller toolbar on the Speedtiller® achieves the ideal seedbed in one pass.
  • Compaction of the soil surface by grazing animals or controlled traffic lanes can be effectively reduced by cultivation.
  • Plant disease cycles can be disrupted by occasional stubble incorporation. Disease build-up such as Crown rot, Rhizoctonia and Yellow spot in wheat will be broken; Blight in chickpeas and Fusarium disease in sorghum are all minimised and reduced by breaking up stubble and incorporating it.
  • Crop pests such as cotton bollworm or corn earworm (Helicoverpa spp.) larvae populations will be reduced, as will snail and slug populations.
  • Rodent populations, especially mice, can be partially controlled by breaking up their stubble cover habitat, disrupting their burrows and burying their food sources. In mice plagues such as being experienced in the current cropping season, incorporating stubble by cultivation will help, but obviously not eliminate, plague populations of these rodents.
  • Herbicide resistance can be partly overcome and delayed by eliminating growing weed plants and burying new weed seeds such as annual ryegrass.

Are there downsides to strategic tillage

In theory, “clean” seedbeds using tillage machinery such as the K-Line Ag Speedtiller® to incorporate stubble and weeds appears contrary to the principles of conservation farming. But the benefits of strategic cultivation far outweigh the disadvantages. The key word here is “strategic”. Cultivation becomes an important tool in a holistic management approach.

Of concern to farmers who aim at a sustainable cropping regime is the conservation or sequestration of soil carbon. Again, recent research has addressed this issue and found that “it is likely that a single strategic tillage event implemented occasionally would have limited impact on stores of soil C”[1]. The amount of carbon loss from soil due to tillage depends more on other factors such as soil moisture and temperature, fertiliser inputs, stubble management and the type of crop and pasture rotation practised.

Another important aim of conservation cropping is to preserve and encourage beneficial soil organisms (both the microflora and fauna). Soil fungi filaments and beneficial bacteria are essential in releasing soil nutrients and assisting their uptake by plants. Any tillage disrupts their lifecycles and reduces their populations. These effects can be minimised by adopting a judicious and occasional, strategic use of tillage. The recovery of soil organisms is more likely to be swift if soil moisture and temperature levels are favourable.

What about soil structure and the risk of erosion? There is no doubt that soil aggregates are disrupted by tillage, but again, research indicates that this causes little or no damage to overall soil physical properties. In no-till farming where a single tillage is carried out, recovery time takes from zero to a maximum of four years, and there appears to be little effect on grain yield from this type of tillage regime. A one-pass treatment using the K-Line Ag Speedtiller® at the right time, with the right soil moisture will have minimal impact on soil structure and soil erosion. And the impact of tillage on soil moisture reserves at sowing time depends very much on the rainfall and temperatures (evaporation) between tillage and sowing. Obviously the frequency and intensity of rainfall after tillage is beyond the control of farmers.

Strategic tillage is one important tool in the conservation farmer’s arsenal. It fits neatly into an integrated weed management program. Its main benefits are to overcome herbicide resistance in weeds and reduce the weed seed burden, and where needed, to break the cycle of crop pests and diseases. A one-pass treatment with specialised machinery such as the K-Line Ag Speedtiller® brings these advantages together, giving flexibility to a cropping program. Strategic cultivation can minimise the time soil is exposed and the Speedtiller® brings the added benefit of being able to incorporate lime to remedy a soil pH problem.


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Till to Kill: The Fight against Herbicide Resistant Weeds

By K-Line Ag
Published on

The use of herbicidal chemical applications in modern commercial agriculture has presented a growing world population with the food needed to meet it’s increased demand. However, the rise in the use of chemicals to combat weeds has also led to parallel increases in herbicide resistant weeds, and the need for alternative and mechanical methods of weed control.

The use of herbicidal chemical applications in modern commercial agriculture has presented a growing world population with the food needed to meet it’s increased demand. However, the rise in the use of chemicals to combat weeds has also led to parallel increases in herbicide resistant weeds, and the need for alternative and mechanical methods of weed control.

How do Herbicide Resistant Weeds Come About?

Chemical resistance results from the molecular structure of the weed’s cells changing, or mutating, as it is repeatedly exposed to low levels of chemical. These low level exposures aren’t enough to kill the plant, but they may stunt it or reduce it’s ability to produce seeds, flowers, or leaves. When this happens, the seeds it does manage to produce carry forward the mutated molecular structure, passing the resistant traits on to new generations. Within a few generations, these mutations have strengthened, making the mutant plants chemical-resistant, even at strong application levels.

Know Your Enemy

Names and types of herbicide resistant weeds vary depending on your country, continent or hemisphere, but the issues remain the same. Chemical resistance has found its way into common Australian weeds like flaxleaf fleabane, ryegrass, awnless barnyard grass, windmill grass, liverseed grass, and common sowthistle to name a few of the more well-known and ubiquitous offenders. In comparison, the International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds, which tracks chemically resistant weed mutations on a global scale, notes 247 species of chemically resistant plants in 66 countries.

Chemically resistant weed species prevalence and success in propagation also tends to vary based on tillage types and farming practices. Decades-long university studies in the US, Brazil and Argentina have found wind-blown seeds and annual grass seeds to be more prevalent in conservation tillage or no-till systems, annual broadleaf varieties to be more common in ridge tillage or disc tillage systems, and perennials as the predominant varieties when traditional ploughing systems were in effect. Much of this stratification of propagation has to do with the biological reserves or hardiness of the seeds themselves, which can be helpful when assessing options for combating their impacts.

Identifying the types of herbicide resistant weeds encountered in your operations is important to devising a control strategy. By knowing your weed, yo can understand its physical attributes, growing and seed production cycles, and the best methods for capitalising on its phenotypical expressions and reproduction times to interrupt these schedules with mechanical controls.

Tilling in Pre-Emergence

Pre-emergence tillage options can destroy weeds in the seed and germination stages, exposing them to surface environments and stopping or stunting their growth patterns. This delay can help give production crops the break they need to germinate (before the disrupted weed seeds) and mature into primary growth stages (like tillering or cotyledon stages), without intense competition from germinated weeds. Once production crops begin tillering or extending leaf shoots post-emergence, they’ve already developed sturdy root systems and can then better compete with stunted weeds for nutrients and moisture. Additionally, established production crop canopies can divert sunlight, nutrients and rainfall away from encroaching weeds, which further hinders their development and improves the crop’s competitive ability throughout the growing season.

Depending on the type of weed, shallow tillage surface exposure and deep tillage seed burial can have similar results on pre-emergent weed seed banks. Shallow tillage brings seeds to the top of the soil profile, where they have increased carryover mortality rates, and are more likely to be eaten by rodents or birds. Studies in the US show predation removal of seeds can account for a third or more of the total seed bank for the soil. This result is improved when paddocks are planted to cover crops that provide habitat and concealment for seed predators.

Shallow tillage brings seeds to the top of the soil profile, where they have increased carryover mortality rates, and are more likely to be eaten by rodents or birds

Deep tillage is another option for combating pre-emergent weed seeds. Tillage that puts seeds below the 0-5cm germination zone preferred by most varieties can cut germination by up to 80%. But, depending on their biological hardiness and energy reserves, seeds pushed deeper into the soil can higher levels of seed persistence, and remain viable for years after the tillage is completed.

The Role of Tilling in Post-Emergence Weeds

For post-emergent herbicide resistant weeds, aggressive, deep tillage is usually the best option for controlling the weed and ensuring more complete destruction and exposure of the plant and roots. By destroying the plant in its entirety and burying the seeds, you can simultaneously combat post-emergent plants while addressing the propagation of future generations in the seed bank. For small, shallow-seeding weeds, a single pass of deep tillage can eliminate the majority of the seed bank for years.

Post-emergence heavy tillage is particularly successful in conjunction with crop roatation and herbicide diversification. When the tillage is complete, crops are rotated, and chemical applications or sites of action change. This provides a jolt that disrupts germination cycles and gives the seed bank time to deplete naturally through predation and standard seed mortality.

The decision to till post-emergence can be difficult. Deep tillage may be thought to undo years of conservation tillage benefits, including erosion control, moisture retention and soil profile improvements through stubble integration. But as weeds become more immune to chemical interventions, it is an option more and more farmers are evaluating, particularly on an intermittent or as-needed basis, or as part of a larger crop rotation and strategic tillage plan, to avoid the escalation of herbicide resistant weeds.

Read More: Research Reveals that Never Cultivating can be a Danger

Chemical resistance is an outcome of increased chemical usage in modern farming, but it doesn’t have to have an adverse effect on your operation. By understanding the weeds you’re facing, exploiting their weaknesses, and making strategic decisions about management and tillage, you can effectively combat even the toughest weeds without impeding your production crop operation.

Chemical resistance is an outcome of increased chemical usage in modern farming, but it doesn’t have to have an adverse effect on your operation

Read More on our Series: War on Chemical Resistance

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Time To Think Lime

By K-Line Ag
Published on

Have you got a plan to address acid soils?

Even in conservation farming or no-till programs, strategic tillage can be used for various reasons, but lime incorporation is one of the most compelling.

Applying lime to the subsoil through incorporation with a suitable tillage machine ensures the lime can react with the soil to give the benefits needed for optimum plant growth. Just spreading lime on the soil surface is not recommended, as it may take years for surface-applied lime to do the job, and crop yields may suffer in the meantime.

So if you are preparing to cultivate the soil for this coming season, now is the time to consider whether lime will benefit the coming crop and those that follow.

Assess the need

Soil acidification has been recognised by all state agricultural agencies as a growing problem in Australian cropping and grazing regions. The reasons can be quite complex, but are associated with clearing of native vegetation, movement of groundwater and the geology of a catchment, and the focus on annual crops over perennials.

Ironically, a buildup of soil organic matter, while overwhelmingly beneficial, can eventually lead to soil acidity.

Some crops are much more sensitive to acid conditions than others. Some crops are much more sensitive to acid conditions than others. Cereal crops are more tolerant, while pulse crops such as lentils and faba beans are acid-sensitive. These crops can indicate early the areas that need to be tested for acidity, especially in the subsoil. Until they are grown, however, it is possible for any acidity issues to remain hidden. But by that time, even yields of tolerant crops will have suffered yield losses.

Symptoms in the crop can be confusing, as they may look similar to drought stress or nitrogen deficiency, however, those problems will often occur across the whole paddock, whereas soil acidification is typically patchy.

To assess the need for lime, state agencies have a range of useful tools and calculators available to farmers. These can show the cost of lime, how much return you can receive by investing in lime and also how much lime is needed to treat a paddock for an initial ‘fix’ and then by applying maintenance levels over following years. A single initial application can give benefits that may last up to five years.

A simple soil testing kit is useful, but both topsoil and surface soil in each horizon should be tested to give an accurate indication of the need for lime. Results below a pH of 5.5 will signal a need to raise the levels with lime.

Getting the lime into the soil

Lime moves into the soil very slowly, and if not incorporated can lie, inactive, on the soil surface for a long time. There is no doubt that incorporation, where possible, is the best way of getting the benefits from applying lime.

The neutralising value of lime and its ability to dissolve depends on its fineness and purity, so the source of lime that you use will also be important.

Research has shown that strategic tillage to incorporate lime will speed up the effectiveness of the lime and help neutralise subsurface acidification.

Machinery to incorporate lime is available, and the ideal machines, specifically developed for strategic tillage and lime incorporation are K-Line Ag’s Speedtiller® and Flexi-Mulch® disc tillage implements. Designed in Australia for Australian farmers, these machines are among a suite of implements developed by K-Line Agriculture that will help reverse the problem of acid soils by incorporating lime into the soil where it can do its work.


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Weeding Out Summer Wastage

By K-Line Ag
Published on

Every year, summer weeds suck precious nutrients and moisture from the soil, wasting crops and denting profits. And this year is no different. In fact, with this higher summer rainfall, the conditions are rife for weed invasions. Which leaves Australian farmers facing two big questions:

1. What’S The Most Effective Way To Prevent Wastage From Weeds This Summer?

There’s no single easy answer. Pesticide alone won’t cut it. In one summer weed control demonstration by Liebe Group, weed counts taken before and after pesticide treatments with Garlon and Ally showed no significant drop. But the study confirmed that the quicker kill by Garlon helped retain soil moisture, and increase the wheat yield — so we do know that speed counts

This finding was reinforced in a further study conducted by BCG, where spraying with Ally and Atrazine was ineffective at complete weed removal. All of which points to a combination of tillage and pesticides as an effective dual method of summer weed control. By attacking the enemy quickly, and on two fronts, crops can be saved by preserving vital soil moisture.

2. Or Am I Really Just Wasting My Money?

The evidence gives us a clear and resounding ‘no’. Results from 21 CSIRO trials show that summer weed control delivers an average 60% increase in seasonal water usage efficiency, and an average $5.57 return for every dollar invested.

And as for keeping summer weeds around as fallow feed for livestock, one of the trials confirmed that controlling summer weeds rather than leaving them for feed increased the average farm income by at least $74/ha. Yet more proof that the faster you deal with weeds the better.

The SpeedTiller by K-Line Ag® is a high-performing, heavy duty adjustable speed disc for fast and effective weed control. It’s also good for soil conditioning with superior water penetration and it can incorporate high levels of crop residue, increasing your soil’s carbon content.

With machine sizes up to 15.5m and Australian made, the Speedtiller®’s advanced design puts it in a class of its own. And puts the arguments about summer weeds to rest.


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What to do when the weather throws you into chaos?

By K-Line Ag
Published on

Whether it's dealing with an infestation of pests or disease, managing increased weed pressure or coping with the movement of large amounts of soil, natural disasters can directly impact on the feasibility of existing farming systems.

Landowners affected by these challenges are often forced to adapt their farming practices to new and unexpected conditions, sometimes just for one season, but in other cases, for the longer term.

Paddock Conditions After Floods

Fast moving water is a law unto itself, often causing unexpected movement of large volumes of soil and organic materials. Many New South Wales farmers affected by the record floods in 2022, for example, have found their paddocks need extensive laser levelling or earthworks to get them back into order after large amounts of soil or debris was dumped on their land.

Some farmers have had to replace or repair their raised bed systems or controlled traffic systems which were affected by flood water. Others have had to deal with rotting plant material from failed crops or large volumes of organic material dumped on their land from upstream.

In these circumstances, existing farm machinery is not always up to the job and farmers throughout the country have found themselves exploring practices or equipment they haven’t needed in the past.

For situations where flood waters have damaged, but not destroyed, existing permanent cropping systems, strategic tillage may be required. A renovation tool such as the TrackAttack® by K-Line Ag or the K-Line Ag SpeedBuster® may be ideal for getting paddocks back into condition. The TrackAttack® is designed to level out wheel tracks, ruts and uneven terrain in controlled traffic systems while the K-Line Ag SpeedBuster® is ideal for renovating existing raised bed systems while also incorporating residue.

However, where more serious damage has occurred, a more powerful tool may be required.

The Speedtiller® by K-Line Ag is simple and robust, built to operate under tough conditions and handles heavy residue with ease. Farms with waterlogged crops that need to be ploughed in, or paddocks that have had large amounts of organic material deposited on them by flood waters, may benefit from the Speedtiller®'s efficiency, allowing farmers to get their land back into production more quickly.

While laser levelling after floods is a big expense, it also offers an opportunity to improve aspects of the farm which may have been limiting productivity beforehand, such as undulations in the landscape or inefficient row direction and length. In this way the practice change arising from a natural disaster ends up delivering a longer-term productivity benefit.

Some farmers have taken the opportunity to use the laser levelling exercise as a chance to address soil productivity constraints, with products such as compost, animal manures, lime or gypsum being applied afterwards. Unfortunately for other farmers, the loss of fertile topsoil downstream has created the need for extra lime and fertiliser to improve soil fertility before the next crop cycle.

Too much wet weather can also leave farmers struggling to deal with plant residue or crop stubble. In fact, the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) have reported that for some grain growing regions, three consecutive La Nina years led to big winter crops and many growers have found heavy stubble loads increasingly challenging to deal with at planting time.

Consecutive wet years are yet another situation where strategic tillage has a place in minimum or zero till farming systems. GRDC reports that levels of burning or cultivation rose in 2012, 2017 and 2021, after wet seasons produced heavy stubble loads in some regions of Victoria. Some farmers in long-term minimum tillage farming regions found themselves without the necessary equipment to cultivate heavy residue and investment in cultivation tools such as the K-line Ag TrackAttack® or SpeedBuster® was necessary to adapt to the changing conditions.

Weed Pressure After Natural Disasters

According to Philip Blackmore, Invasive Species Officer at NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), infestations of new weeds are common after natural disasters such as drought, fire and floods. Drought, for example, can devastate existing vegetation, removing competition for light, nutrients, moisture and space, which allows quick establishment of weeds when conditions are favourable.

Weeds often thrive in flood affected pasture or cropping paddocks, as competition from the established crop or pasture is reduced due to water damage, and access to paddocks for weed control purposes is delayed.

Similarly, fires can trigger the germination of dormant weeds which can also thrive due to lack of competition from established plants. Landowners in the fire ravaged area of far South Coast of NSW, for example, have struggled to control weeds triggered by fires in 2019-20 which have flourished following good rainfall in 2021, resulting in the local council being inundated with requests from landholders for help to control problem weeds.

According to NSW Local Land Services, many NSW landholders are battling to deal with increased pressure from long-established weeds that have become harder to manage after droughts, fires and floods in recent years.

Many regions are finding new weeds are taking a foothold in the aftermath of natural disasters, which causes challenges for landowners who’ve had little experience with those new species. Landholders must be vigilant in the fight against new weed infestations by ensuring that in the aftermath of a natural disaster, movement of animals, vehicles and equipment onto their property is monitored to ensure mud and dirt which may contain weed seeds is carefully managed.

As authorities throughout the country are grappling to cope with weed outbreaks resulting from natural disasters, farmers are grappling with how best to manage increased weed pressure while still maintaining their existing farming system.

While some farmers are exploring novel solutions such as goats or other grazing animals, weed seeking technology or new herbicides, there is no denying that maintaining minimum or zero tillage systems in the face of weed outbreaks is challenging and many farmers are turning once again to strategic cultivation to help them tackle problem weeds.

Making Decisions About Your Farm After a Disaster

There is no denying the stress that natural disasters place on farming families and businesses, so it’s not surprising that during these difficult times many business owners struggle to make the best decisions about how to overcome the challenges they’re facing.

According to Rural Services consultant Cam Nicholson, past negative experiences can have a major influence on future decisions, sometimes resulting in significant missed opportunities. However, he also feels a structured approach to making complex, and sometimes difficult, decisions can help in making a good decision.

Mr Nicholson believes the more difficult or complex a decision is, the more we rely on experience or the gut to inform the decision. In his experience he has noticed that our temperament influences our decision making, and many farmers have a temperament that naturally defaults to relying more on the gut and heart than the head.

Whatever challenge you may be grappling with in the aftermath of a natural disaster, it’s important to try to manage emotion-driven decisions. Landowners are encouraged to take a step back, review the situation pragmatically and seek opportunities from the disaster.

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When it comes to residue management, there’s one clear-cut winner

By K-Line Ag
Published on

Strategies to manage residue – sometimes also known as trash, chaff, and straw, along with vertical stubble – may include burning, retention, inter-row cropping or incorporation.

To burn or not to burn?

Burning has long been regarded as a highly effective strategy for the complete elimination of biomass, leaving paddocks fully cleared in preparation for sowing. It’s also sometimes a necessary tool for controlling weeds, especially those that have developed herbicide resistance, or pests.

However, there is an increased awareness that a total lack of ground cover can leave soil fully exposed to the elements, stripping moisture from soil and leading to erosion. A study conducted at Wagga Wagga demonstrated that stubble retention reduced soil losses by almost two-thirds compared to burnt paddocks, and also increased infiltration of rainfall [1].

In cleared paddocks, weeds are able to propagate freely via airborne seeding, or from sub-soil elements to have survived the fire.

Burning also adversely impacts local air quality during the operation, and may contribute negatively to global warming and climate change.

The case for retaining residue

Retaining residue is increasingly considered to be more beneficial than burning, depending on the circumstances. Leftover residue and/or stubble from harvesting provides a moist ground cover that helps to minimise soil erosion and better retain its condition, and provides a ready source of nutrients for soil enrichment.

Lowering the combine platform and using the combine to thresh and spread the stubble is effective, but can be an expensive option due to the high cost of the combine. It also slows down the harvest at a time when crops need to be in the bin fast, to beat weather events and crop damage.

Residue has also been implicated in the issue of nitrogen tie-up - a temporary nitrogen lag during early crop growth stages, as microbes ‘borrow’ soil nitrogen to break down residue and stubble left over from the previous crop.

Wetter-than-usual conditions in recent seasons have been conducive to an increase in residue production and with nitrogen and water required to break down the crop stubble and residue, this can tie up much of the available nitrogen in the soil.

Field trials conducted by the Grains Research and Development Corporation over many years indicate that nitrogen tie-up can impact wheat yields by up to 0.3t/ha to 0.4t/ha.

Excessive amounts of residue can also impede seeding operations for an incoming crop using equipment such as a tyned seeder.

An alternative strategy

Another approach to residue management is inter-row cropping. This is when seeding equipment is set up to run the tines in between the previous year’s rows. This has proven effective in some regions, especially in the northern black and grey soils of Australia with 300 to 400mm tine spacing. However, the southern half of Australia is now reducing tine spacing to 250 or 200mm, to assist in crop weed control and yield benefits. As a result, fewer farmers are relying on this technique.

The incorporation approach

The final strategy is incorporation, and this is where K-Line Ag’s Speedtiller® comes to the fore. The dual-purpose disc tillage machine is an excellent example of this technique because it’s able to penetrate the soil at the ideal depth. The Speedtiller® chops up the residue and incorporates it back into the soil. Here, its nutrient value is much more easily accessible before being sustainably broken down.

The Speedtiller® also lifts the soil to reduce compaction and simultaneously levels the field, leaving a well-prepared seedbed in just one pass. Surface weeds are dislodged and buried below their optimal germination depth, where they can eventually break down.

Engineered for Australian conditions, the Speedtiller® is the ideal tool to take advantage of shorter windows of opportunity caused by volatile weather conditions.

The result is that the incoming above-ground crop has access to the nutrients it needs to thrive – sunlight energy (carbon), water and warm temperatures. Below the ground, crop roots and microbes continue to feed on the available nitrogen and carbon stored in the soil, rather than immobilising the nitrogen to help break down stubble residue.

Selectively deployed in the right circumstances with purpose-built equipment, incorporation can represent a best-of-both-worlds solution to the issue of residue management, leaving behind loose, fertile soil that’s ready for the next sowing.


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Winning the War on Chemical Resistant Weeds

By K-Line Ag
Published on

Fleabane. Marestail. Giant Ragweed. Waterhemp. Ryegrass. Beggartick. Pigweed.

No matter where you live – state or province, country or continent, Eastern or Western hemisphere – chances are if you are a farmer, you saw a name on the list above that made you cringe. And unfortunately, you are not alone.

According to the International Survey of Herbicide-Resistant Weeds, a scientific think tank committed to identifying, cataloguing, and controlling herbicide-resistant weeds around the world, the problem is large, and continuing to grow (pun intended!). There are currently 234 species of resistant weeds in 65 countries around the world, and more are added every growing season.

How does a weed become resistant to chemicals? The answer varies with each weed type and each associated herbicide. The basic answer is that as chemicals are repeatedly applied to certain weeds, those weeds’ molecular structure changes, or mutates. These mutations mean that while the plant could still be affected by the chemical (think stunted growth or less flower, seed, or leaf production, etc.), it doesn’t die or stop producing offspring as intended by the herbicide application. Thus, the plant has the ability to pass that modified DNA structure on to subsequent generations of weeds, and the basis for chemical resistance is born.

Chemically tolerant or resistant weeds are most common in areas or countries where agriculture is industrialized. The prevalence of chemicals in modern farming practices means there are exponentially more opportunities for altered DNA replication to happen in industrialized nations, leading to an increased number of weeds showing resistant characteristics in those areas.

There are a number of approaches to avoiding or controlling the spread of chemically-resistant weeds. While the options may not be for everyone, knowing even the most basic methods for combating herbicide resistance can help slow down the problem.

Go organic

This is definitely not an option for everyone, but not using chemicals for weed control is one way to diminish resistant tendencies. Organic farmers have to use cultural, situational, and mechanical controls to fight their weed infestations. Cultural controls include things like making growing conditions unfavourable by using additives to change soil pH. Situational controls extend to things like crop rotations and companion planting. Mechanical controls encompass all types of tillage when used in weed control situations.

Optimise soil nutrient contents

Knowing your land’s soil types and that soil’s nutrient composition can go a long way toward promoting crop growth and combating weed infestation. Test your soils for deficiencies, and add nutrients customized for your planned crop. A balanced soil nutrient profile can help push crops through growth stages (germination, emergence, canopy) as fast as possible. This jumpstart makes them bigger faster, which makes it easier for them to fend off and stunt the growth of competitive weeds.

Rotate crops

Growing the same crops in the same places every year produces year-upon-year tolerance to chemicals in many types of weeds. Break up this cycle by changing the base crop, herbicide applications, and timing for each paddock. Get assistance from a local soil conservationist or government agriculture office to balance crop herbicide and nutrient needs within your farming operation.

Hit the Dirt

Zero in on problem patches and target areas of weed density by physically inspecting your paddocks. By getting at eye level with your crops and their weedy competitors, you can identify and customize applications for your paddocks’ specific problem weed types instead of constantly relying on broadcast herbicides.

Go Big, or Don’t Go

Don’t use less herbicide or a lighter concentration than what is specified by the manufacturer on the mixing label. Under-mixing herbicides actually helps to promote chemical resistance. Weakly mixed or lightly applied chemicals function in weeds like vaccinations do in people: small doses eventually build up immunity.

Select the proper seed hybrids

All seed hybrids are not created equal. Talk with your local agronomist or seed dealer to select hybrids genetically designed to be grown in your area. Localized hybrids often have traits that encourage early germination and allow them to withstand colder soil temperatures than competitive weed seeds. These hybrids can be planted earlier than most wild weed seeds can germinate, spurring crop growth while inhospitable conditions retard the growth of competitive weeds.

Insist on implement hygiene

Ever wonder why weeds seem to be more prevalent in the outside rows of a paddock, but less common further in? In many cases, it’s a matter of implement hygiene. When equipment moves from farm to farm or paddock to paddock, weeds and their seeds get transferred along with the implements. This weedy trash generally falls off the machine in the first rounds, as evidenced by the weed propagation in most paddocks. As a weed control best practice, require cleaning of implements before entering paddocks, especially if employing custom operators, and for all equipment after each growing season.

Plant for Production

Maintaining and calibrating planting equipment per manufacturer recommendations can pay back greatly when it comes to weed control. How, you might ask? Malfunctioning planter and diagnostic parts like vacuum tubes, seed plates, and monitors can give false information about seeding and fertilizer application rates. This can leave empty spots or slow growth areas in your paddocks, leaving the door open for opportunistic weeds to take over.

Make Another Pass at Weed Control

Tillage is a great way to control weeds without using additional chemicals. Paired with the other methods and tips above, passes through post-emergent crops with tillage equipment can provide soil disruption to expose or uproot weeds between rows. This in turn contributes to dehydration or growth delays in those weeds, allowing time for crops to overcome and eventually kill their competitors. Tillage also can have the additional benefit of killing non-plant undesirables, like fungi and pests, in many paddocks.

While the war on chemical-resistant weeds is far from over, farmers have a number of control methods at their disposal. Alone, these methods may not win the war, but together they make a suitable arsenal for helping farmers win key battles against chemical-resistant weeds the world over.

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Yield Boost: Combatting Weeds & Improving Soils in a Single Pass with the K-Line Ag Speedtiller

By K-Line Ag
Published on

Crop producers’ focus is always yield. Better varieties for better yield. Better nutrient management for better yield. Better soil management for better yield. Better weed control for better yield… you get the picture. Managing these variables is a full-time job for farmers, and there is never enough time to do everything possible to improve yields.

Having an implement that can provide both better soil management and better weed control is a definite value-add for farmers, and that is exactly what the K-Line Ag Speedtiller®

K-Line Ag’s Speedtiller® was designed and built in Australia to combat the unique conditions of Australian soils and to address the needs of the Australian farmer. However, this farmer-centric design mentality has translated very well overseas too, and the company now produces implements for the US, Canadian and European markets.

Incorporating Residues for Higher Yields

The success of the Speedtiller® comes from its ability to improve soil humus levels, reduce erosion, and combat chemical resistant weeds in a single pass utilizing a single implement. Farmers have long understood that chopping plant residues (stems, stalks, roots, etc) left in the paddock post-harvest and then incorporating them into the soil provides important soil benefits. With incorporated residues, the organic matter percentage within the soil profile increases. This brings with it a better environment for beneficial soil microbes, enhanced ability for soils to absorb and retain water, and increased bioavailability of micronutrients from residues as they decompose and re-enter the soil as compost.

The inclusion of residues in the soil also guards against erosion. It creates pathways for surface water to penetrate more deeply into the soil profile, and by acting as a sponge, absorbs water into the residue materials for soil use during drier periods. Because residue-incorporated soils have a more varied surface texture, they resist the effects of surface water and wind erosion. This supports soil component retention and fosters long-term soil health.

The Speedtiller® accomplishes residue incorporation by utilizing a two-part system – first chopping the residues into manageable pieces and shifting the dirt with an offset disc, and then mixing the dirt and residues together into a finished paddock surface, leaving the seedbed ready for planting. This two-step approach provides the residue incorporation farmers need to reap the benefits of better crop health and higher yields.

Save Time, Fuel & Labour!

The Speedtiller’s dual purpose discing and finishing capabilities have added benefits as well. Producers can use this single implement to do the work of two or even three other implements. The savings in soil compaction, operator time, and fuel expenditures make a sizeable impact on production and operational costs.

Combatting Chemical Resistance

The Speedtiller® also plays an important role in weed control for farmers by providing a mechanical means of weed disruption and diminishing the possibility of promoting chemical resistance in their local weed populations. Unlike chemical applications of herbicides, mechanical processes like tillage implements do not mutate the molecular structure of the weeds, which causes chemical-resistance. Instead, mechanical processes disrupt the weeds’ growing cycle. This dehydrates or stunts the weeds, while allowing production crops time to overcome and eventually kill competitive weeds.

The most versatile tillage tool on the market!

Because it’s designed with an appreciation for the variability of Australian soils and cropping types, the Speedtiller® is customisable for applications from vineyard cultivation to oilseed and cereal production. Trailing and 3-point linkage versions are available. Finishing rollers can be selected based on soil type: hollow crumbling rollers for loamier soils and spring rollers for stickier, clay-type soils. These unique configurations allow producers to utilize the correct mechanical design to realize the greatest benefits in residue and soil management for increased yields.

To learn more about the yield-supporting benefits of a Speedtiller® by K-Line Ag, contact the friendly sales team on 1800 194 131 (in Australia), or 1800 445 6882 (in USA).

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