Kuhn, like all implement manufacturers, is well aware that good crops begin with good seedbeds of an appropriate tilth and free from competitive weeds.

Achieving that happy situation is, however, proving ever more problematic as pressure is being put on farmers to reduce the amount of total soil inversion through not using that mainstay of tillage farming, the mouldboard plough.

The situation is complicated further by the war being waged on herbicides, which have contributed so much to ensuring elevated crop yields over the years.

JCB tractor pulling Kuhn implement
Innovation will be essential if the demands on modern agriculture are to be met

These two factors have swung the focus very much towards considering the soil as a living part of the farm rather than just a medium in which crops will grow if enough inputs are thrown at it.

A good deal of innovation and development is required from machinery companies if food production is to be maintained while disallowing these two tools, and Kuhn Centre Ireland recently put on a tillage day in Co. Kildare where it addressed the issue.

Vital role of plough

Despite the disdain for the plough held by those who guide farming policy, the implement is still a vital part of a farmer’s armoury and will not be disappearing anytime soon.

All major implement manufacturers are of the opinion that it will still be needed for various situations.

Kuhn itself is of the opinion that total soil inversion will be required every four or five years to bury a build-up of trash and weeds.

Kuhn Plough
Ploughs in the Kuhn Leader range are designated by the dimension of the box section used in the beam

To this end, it is still developing its range of VM ploughs, the VM denoting variable width, and the major part of the market is covered by either the company’s 12 or 15 type ploughs.

This figure denotes the size, in centimetres, of the box section used at the head of the beam.

The variations upon this general theme are countless, but the company suggests that an un-extended plough is purchased to match the present tractor, it can then be enlarged with an extra furrow or two if the tractor is upgraded.

Simplifying choice

Traditionally, the plough would have been followed by discs or tines, often both, to break up the clods and prepare the seedbed, but ploughing speeds have increased which has reduced the requirement for following cultivations.

Deutz Fahr tractor
As tractors have gotten bigger, implements have grown in width to utilise the power available

In Ireland, Kuhn’s philosophy tends to view discs as suitable for surface cultivation while heavy duty but adaptable tines should be called into action where deeper working of the soil is called for.

This clarity helps in finding a path through the multitude of cultivation systems that have appeared over the years, even those that dispense with the plough altogether, which encourages Kuhn to stress the versatility of its products.

Discs for the topsoil

Its Optimer L range of discs is intended to work at 3-15 cm, dependent on disc type.

There are two types of 510mm discs available: A smaller notched version for a working depth down to 6cm; a version with a larger notch that will work down to 10cm; while a 620mm disc, known as the Optimer XL, will run between 5-15cm.

Disc cultivator behind tractor
The Optimer L range of discs is designed to work in the topsoil

The smaller discs will rotate faster, adding to the mechanical work being done on the soil, the larger disc, however, gives better mixing down to a greater depth.

When the disc sets were put to work on a pea stubble, the shallower setting produced a fine stale seedbed but a deeper setting was required to dislodge grass weeds and volunteer cereals from a previous crop.

Tines for depth

If deeper cultivation is required and the soil needs to be stirred, then Kuhn has two options, the Cultimer range of tined stubble cultivators, or the hybrid Performer models which combine discs and tines.

Billed as stubble cultivators in the brochure, the sales and marketing team at Kuhn are eager to point out that the Cultimer machines are so much more than that with versatility once again being the major strength.

Tines working at depth
The tines on the Cultimer are twisted to improve soil flow and mixing

Working depth spans an impressive 3-35cm, from stale seedbed preparation to deep cultivation with thorough mixing of the soil and disruption of compacted layers.

In between, there is the possibility of straw incorporation to 15cm which increases the soil straw contact area.

The break-back force on the tines is 600kg which helps, the company claims, maintain a constant working depth.

The tines are curved to promote a better flow and more even mixing while optional carbide tips reduce the war rate by around 80%.

Winged tines on Cultimer
The winged tines on the Cultimer are followed by levelling discs and choice of rollers for consolidation

Shallow work of between 3cm and 7cm is aided by the further option of winged tines which are designed to slice through rooted weeds while encouraging weed seeds to germinate in the top horizon of the soil, leaving deeper seeds undisturbed.


The Performer range combines the working elements of both the Optimer and Cultimer implements, providing a tool for one-pass seedbed preparation.

Kuhn Performer behind Fastrac
The Kuhn Performer combines the elements of the Cultimer discs and Optimer tines to create a one-pass implement for stubble

The working depth of the disc and tine elements can be altered independently of each other, allowing them to be used alone or together, effectively giving three implements in one.

Surface cultivation and deep soil mixing in one pass can require a good deal of effort and Kuhn recommend a 50-80hp/m for Performer models when it is running both discs and tines at the same time.

Looking ahead

With a turnover of €1.3 billion, the company claims to be the largest agricultural implement manufacturer in the world, yet, unlike similar companies, it has not put its name upon any mechanical weeders or a range of ultra-shallow cultivators.

Massey Ferguson tractor pulling Kuhn drill
The Kuhn tillage range has remained relatively stable recently; will we see some major developments in 2024?

This may appear something of a hole in the portfolio, but when pressed on the subject the company’s export manager, Joachim Brossard, remained tight-lipped, suggesting only that there is always development work proceeding on new products.

There was not an awful lot new at the tillage demo day in Athy, and little more is promised for Agritechnica, so the suspicion remains that Kuhn will have some big news next year and it may well include completely new tillage machines catering for this growing market.