How Are Kelly Chains and Rings Used in Agriculture?

You don’t see too many chains and rings being worn by farmers, but that doesn’t mean they don’t serve an important purpose in Australian agriculture.

We’re talking about the Kelly chains and rings system used to cultivate the soil on Australian farms. In this post, we’ll look at what a Kelly chain and ring is, how they are used,  the benefits they provide and why Kelly frames and Bute Discs are a match made in heaven. 

What are Kelly chains and rings?

Chains and rings are used to cultivate the soil on farms. But if this conjures up thoughts of traditional ploughs drawn by horses or a tractor, think again.

The modern cultivation system uses an innovative disc that is joined to another disc by a hook and eye, or ring. Many discs are joined together in the same way, forming a chain.

This chain of discs is drawn behind a tractor or other farm machinery and allowed to roll over the soil surface.

Chains and rings are used predominantly to prepare the soil for the planting of seeds.

Using chains and rings is a form of surface tillage. In other words, cultivation that only disturbs the soil’s surface to shallow depths. Generally, this means around five to 12 centimetres, but in the case of the Bute Disc’s system it can be less.

Deep tillage often cultivates the soil to 70 centimetres or more.

What are Bute Discs?

Bute Discs manufacturers a patented disc chain that can be both installed on new frames or retro-fitted to your existing frames.

Bute Discs disc chains are the highest quality on the market. Benefits include:

  • Better weed kill, including fleabane
  • Better results from fewer passes
  • Customised to your specific soil
  • Perfect for seed preparation
  • Preserves subsoil moisture

How are chains and rings used in agriculture?

As briefly mentioned above, chains and rings are used to prepare the soil for the planting of seeds. But this is only part of the story.

Chains and rings can be used to:

Return crop residue to the soil

Crop residue is simply what is left of the plant after the harvest. This can include stalks, stubble, leaves and seed pods. A good example is the corn plant after all the ears of corn have been removed.

Amazingly, each year it’s estimated that around 2445 million tonnes of crop residue is produced globally, and this is growing due to the rise in the world’s population and reliance on agriculture.

Crop residues are rich in nutrients and organic matter and returning them to the soil is a benefit to soil health. By cultivating the crop residue into the soil, the health of agricultural land is improved, and there’s less reliance on the addition of fertiliser. This, in turn, can save the farmer money.

Kelly chains and rings can be used to return crop residue to the soil. In the process, the residue is chopped down to the root level and split into smaller pieces, accelerating its breakdown in the soil.

The chain and ring system can also be used to incorporate a cover crop into the soil. Like crop residue, this adds nutrients and organic matter to the soil, resulting in a more fertile environment and an improved soil for the next cash crop.

Weed control

Weed control is vital in any agricultural operation. Weeds decrease crop yields, increase production costs, impede irrigation flow, harbour diseases and ultimately reduce the quality of the next cash crop.

Different methods of weed control can be applied in agriculture. For example, the use of herbicide and burning. However, both have environmental concerns and in the case of herbicides can be expensive. That’s why cultivation remains one of the best methods of weed control in use today.

Chains and rings are remarkably effective at removing weeds from a farm. They can be used to control existing weeds and to prevent the germination of weed seeds.

Seedbed preparation

The ideal soil for planting seeds is a fine tilth – loose, crumbly, friable soil. However, it doesn’t just happen. After the previous crop, deep cultivation and other wear and tear, soil can become cloddy and rough.

Seedbed preparation is an important process that can make a big difference in seed germination and survival rate. Surface tillage is one of the best methods of preparing a soil for seeds, and it’s something Bute Disc’s chains and rings system excels at.

Other benefits of Bute Disc’s chains and rings

As highlighted, chains and rings can be used to return crop residue and green crops to the soil, control weeds and prepare the soil for seed planting.

However, the benefits of Bute Disc’s chains and rings don’t stop there:

  • Bute Discs disc chains are authorised to be retrofitted on Kelly frames and the frames of many other leading manufacturers. Kelly frames work most effectively when paired with Bute Discs, offering the most aggressive disc chain on the market.
  • The discs are attached to a flexible chain or gang of discs, which closely follow the surface contours of the soil when drawn by farm machinery. The design means that only the very top of the soil is worked – around 2.5 to 7.5 centimetres.
  • This system means the equipment can be used in wet or even water-logged fields. Allowing farmers to work wet soil will help it warm and dry out, which will allow planting to commence earlier.
  • In fact, the system can be used on all types of soil. Wet, dry or in-between.
  • Bute Disc’s chains and rings help to aerate the soil. This ensures that small holes are added to the soil, allowing air, water and nutrients to penetrate to the roots of the next cash crop.
  • If you have wheel ruts or contour banks in your fields, chains and rings can eliminate them and make these areas perfect for seed planting.
  • The disc system can be used to cover crop seedings. In fact, a farmer can cover seed while mulching crop residue at the same time in one pass. This saves time and allows seeds to be covered by crop residue and level soil, providing optimum germination and growing conditions.
  • Drawing Bute Disc’s chains and rings uses less fuel than many other surface tillage methods.

In summary, Bute Disc’s chains and rings are helping Australian farmers to maximise cash crop yields and increase efficiency.

And that’s got to be a good thing!

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