360 CHAINROLL: Beta Season Review

Driven by a passion to help manage residue, Gregg put together a strong engineering team to develop this new retrofit stalk roll system designed to improve the following year’s plant stands, and help improve the availability of nutrients locked within the residue. As a result, 360 CHAINROLL was created, and was tested on fields throughout the Corn Belt for its beta season during Harvest 2015.

Nitrogen Management: Why Residue Matters

Setting the stage for next year’s crop starts with the combine pass the previous fall. Managing compaction and distribution of crop residue through the back of the combine and sizing of the residue pulled down through the head are both important factors to consider when making the combine pass. There are several options available to farmers today, including a standard stalk roll that strictly focuses on pulling the stalk down to remove ears, and chopping corn heads and retrofit stalk rolls that aggressively chop the stalk and leave small, confetti-like residue. Each concept has its own advantages and disadvantages, but after working with many farmers throughout Iowa this past harvest, the differences I found with 360 CHAINROLL made me eager for its broader launch in 2016.

360 CHAINROLL: At A Glance

360 CHAINROLL is uniquely designed to cut and crimp stalks differently than the options currently available. And, the results set growers up well for the following growing season:

  • With each revolution, 360 CHAINROLL has ten points of contact as it processes the stalk. There are nine intermeshing chaining flutes that crimp and score the stalk every 1 1/4 inch, and one cutting flute to size the length of the residue, increasing available surface area for air, moisture, and soil to more easily enter the interior of the stalk to help enhance break down, soil health and nutrient availability.
  • 360 CHAINROLL is constructed with technology that continues to self-sharpen both its chaining and cutting flutes throughout the life of the rolls, equaling or exceeding lifespan compared to standard OEM stalk rolls.
  • Stalks are precisely cut 6-9 inches long for easy pick up by row cleaners for a cleaner seed bed, helping to establish 1000-2000 additional plants per acre that, in many cases, would struggle to compete with residue.
  • Residue behind the corn head is a combination of precision cut and crimped stalks and shredded leaves, maintaining enough weight to not be easily moved by wind across a field or into fence lines.

Beta Season: What I Saw

We were excited about the product development and how we anticipated it would perform in the field. So, the 360 Yield Center agronomy team, engineering team and our dealers spent September and October helping to install 360 CHAINROLL all across the Corn Belt. We harvested corn with green stalks just after black layer for earledge, and finished up in mid-November with 14% corn. What I saw impressed me. 360 CHAINROLL truly processes the stalk, never letting go of the stalk from start to finish. We learned that maintaining the proper head to ground speed ratio helps as the stalk is processing through the 360 CHAINROLL efficiently. Yet, the most exciting part of evaluating the residue behind 360 CHAINROLL is picturing the next season’s corn or soybean crop emerging in the field the following spring. If the following crop will be no-tilled, the residue is sized for a row cleaner to easily move the residue for a clean strip for the emerging seed. In a tillage situation, the residue is easily mixed within the soil, positioning residue both within the profile and on the surface to help protect the soil and infiltrate water and oxygen to the roots during the growing season.

Managing residue no doubt is challenging, but 360 CHAINROLL has taken the advantages of the current stalk roll options and has pulled these into one product. Sizing residue in very small pieces can speed up breakdown, but it leads to off-target residue movement with wind as well as a challenge for row cleaners to remove and to maintain seed to soil contact the following spring, compromising plant stand. Many standard OEM stalk rolls leave stalks mostly intact, making it challenging to plant, and at times, to manage tillage, and offers minimal sizing to help enhance residue breakdown and nutrient availability. 360 CHAINROLL sizes the corn leaves into small pieces but sizes and crimps the stalks into manageable sizes. 360 CHAINROLL collectively enhances breakdown, nutrient availability, soil health, and plant stand establishment as part of the combine pass.

After its beta season, 360 Yield Center learned a lot about 360 CHAINROLL in the field, and the engineering team continues to evaluate and prepare for full launch of 360 CHAINROLL in the fall of 2016. Currently, 360 CHAINROLL is available for most JD 600 series corn heads as well as for JD 40/90 series. Additional model retrofit options will be available for the Fall of 2016. To learn more about 360 CHAINROLL, see this blog from Gregg Sauder or visit www.360YieldCenter.com/products/360-Chainroll.