Reviews

Farmchief SSE Ripper review

Southland turned on the weather for Farm Trader’s Farmchief Quivogne SSE Ripper test.

Coming from the Waikato, where we thought winter was almost behind us, with temperatures increasing along with grass growth rates, I had pulled the thermals and jacket back out of the wardrobe for the trip south. However, I was pleasantly surprised with an almost tropical Southland winters day.

With spring not far around the corner, farmers and contractors are getting winter crop paddocks worked and back into production to make the most of the summer growth Southland is known for. For the contractors this is almost doubly important, as the sooner they can get these paddocks worked and sown, they can concentrate their resources and equipment into harvesting high quality supplement for farmers for the following winter.

I met up with Anthony Murray and Dean Garton from Farmchief Machinery, and Paul from Caldwell Contracting who had a John Deere 6190R waiting to hook up to the Farmchief SSE ripper, and a paddock of winter crop recently finished grazing, ready for working. There are benefits to subsoiling a whole paddock with greater root growth and nutrient availability, or selected areas where drainage and compaction are most likely to affect yields, such as low points and headlands. Paul had selected some of the wettest areas for testing the Farmchief ripper.

Getting these areas ripped and allowing them to dry means they can get on with the rest of the cultivation work required to get it back into pasture sooner. This benefits the farmer and also benefits the contractors by letting them get onto the silage jobs with fewer cultivation jobs left to finish (a big positive in the sometimes challenging weather conditions of Southland).

With weather like the day I was there, a few days after ripping and I think cultivation of the rest of the paddock could begin. For those in other areas, the benefits of sub soiling are the same – greater root growth and penetration and the ability to take up and use the nutrients available in the soil. In the Waikato for example sub soiling is sometimes used pre maize planting offering greater yields/ha.

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Operation

Using the SSE ripper is very straight forward – connect to tractor 3 point linkage, lift park stand at rear of the implement and adjust depth gauge wheels on either side to desired depth you want to work. Obviously the deeper you set the ripper the harder it is going to be to pull, requiring more horse power and probably less speed. The JD6190R was more than adequate for the job, even working down to 400-500mm depth in what I would describe as pretty wet conditions. The SSE5 is not a very heavy machine, so local soil conditions and the depth you want to work will determine what size tractor you would require.

Construction/design

With moving parts limited to a sliding stand for when not in use, and adjustable depth wheels on either side of the machine, construction of this ripper is impressively simple. This is one of the strengths of the machine – there are no hydraulics or reset mechanism on the ripper legs, just simple shear bolt protection should you strike hidden timber or rock, either of which is quite likely working at 500mm or more below the surface, which won’t have been worked under traditional soil cultivation.

In the test we managed to drag up large lumps of clay and tree material, which didn’t cause the machine any trouble. The five ripper tines mounted on the triangular shaped front edge are bolted in place, which allows you to possibly adjust spacing or remove two, leaving three, which may provide sufficient ripping/aeration of the ground in some soil types.

The 30mm thick steel, curved tines pull into and through the soil really well, giving an excellent lifting and shattering of the soil. Hard faced steel used on the leading edge of the tines should withstand wear well. The hardened steel plate also protrudes from bottom of each leg approximately 100mm when new. In the paddock where we tested the machine, one of the benefits was not having any roller or harrow type set up following behind, as this would have acted more like an anchor to try and drag through the ground. In other situations, the option of a roller or harrow setup may aid in ground preparation for the following pass and the flexibility of the machine.

Another benefit of the machine giving a good lift height means tines are not going to hit the ground travelling over rough terrain.

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Farmchief Machinery

Farmchief Machinery has had a presence from northern Canterbury to Southland for some time, with branches spread throughout these regions and a new bigger branch recently opened in Christchurch and Palmerston North.

Farmchief Machinery has been importing the French made Quivogne (pronounced “Key Von”) machinery since 2003, seeing a market here for the high quality European made gear. The large range to choose from suits the wide variety of conditions found here. Farmchief stand behind all machinery it sells, keeping an extensive range of parts on hand should you have a break down and need to get back up and going asap. The few moving parts of the SSE ripper should mean you have no issues in this regard.

The verdict

With the extensive range of machinery available for farmers and contractors to buy, decisions around which machines improve efficiency and have the ability to get the job can be difficult.

For removing compaction or pans due to cultivation or naturally occurring, you can’t go wrong with a simple tool like the SSE ripper. So few moving parts with a strong design will soon see it become your go-to tool for sorting compaction issues.

Pros

  • Strong, simple, effective design.
  • The provision for mounting a light harrow or roller of some sort may be a good option in some cases.

Cons

  • No harrow or roller attachment.
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