Trained tillage

Väderstad’s director of tillage product management, Wolfram Hastolz, explains the thinking behind new developments on the company’s TopDown and Opus cultivators.

If autonomy is to become the future of farming, implements will need to match the technology seen on the tractors that will be pulling them.

This is why Väderstad has introduced prescription map tillage and E-Services to the TopDown and Opus range.

The technology brings farmers a new generation of the Väderstad TopDown and Opus cultivators for 2024. In addition to an updated design, it puts the iPad-based control system E-Control on the two implements, as well as the ability to apply prescription map tillage via ISOBUS Task Control.

From model year 2024, the combination cultivator TopDown 400-700 and heavy cultivator Opus 400-700 can be equipped with gateway, sensors and updated electronics. These allow it to be operated via E-Control via an iPad, as well as through the tractor ISOBUS terminal.

The changes mean farmers can optimise the tillage operation by being able to tailor the machine setting to the conditions in the field. This is done through the use of prescription maps, to control the machine setting automatically on the go using a field map.

The farmer, before going to the field, can program how the individual working elements – discs, tines, levellers and packer – should behave at specific spots in the field based on for example soil type, or field characteristics. This prescription map is then inserted to the tractor ISOBUS terminal, which then will connect to the Väderstad E-Control system to take control of the machine.

This approach applies to tillage the same thinking on savings as we’ve seen before with variable rate application of seed and fertiliser – the rule of “as much as necessary, as little as possible”. Some of the benefits come as diesel savings and improved soil health, others by the possibility to increase the working speed as well as reduce the wear. What’s more, it enables an autonomous farming future.

But it’s not just about autonomy. Using the iPad-based control system Väderstad E-Control, the operator will also be able to gain full control of the machine directly from the tractor cab. With a touch of a button, the driver can set the individual working depth or intensity of the discs, tines, levellers, or packer on the go. To assist the field work, four pre-set buttons can be used to store different machine configurations.

The control system is designed to support the driver to optimise the tillage operation, while also increasing the user experience. With the pre-set buttons the farmer can store their own most common machine configurations. For example, using pre-set 1 for standard field work, pre-set 2 for tramlines, pre- set 3 for tough areas, and so on. When one working zone is changed, the others will compensate automatically to keep their individual selected depth.

But field work can become hectic, and unexpected situations occur. When this happens, the TopDown and Opus can be quickly switched back to manual and traditional control, so the operator can take back command.