Before you can achieve good ploughing it is essential that both the tractor and plough are properly prepared.
The tractor should have the correct wheel settings and tyre pressures but more importantly efficient operation of the hydraulics is needed.
The inside wheel settings of the tractor are very important. Increasing the wheel setting will move the tractor away from the furrow wall and therefore increase the width of the front furrow. Decreasing the wheel setting will have the opposite effect. When ploughing with a 4WD tractor equal front and rear wheel inside measurements will ensure the tractor and plough pull in a straight line.
The other important point on the tractor is 3-point linkage. The pulling point and geometry must be correct or the plough can wander from side to side, also the tractors performance will be effected. The cross shaft length should be adjusted to correct this, the correct cross shaft lengths should be stated in the plough operation manual.
For ploughs to work efficiently, all the bodies must be correctly aligned and parallel to one another.
1) Furrow width: all the furrow widths should be equal. Using a straight edge against the rear landside check the furrow width of each body.
2) Under beam clearance: measure from the underside of the point to the underside of the main frame. Left hand bodies should be equal to right hand bodies.
3) Interbody clearance: the inlet and outlet should be equal (see below diagram). Also left and right bodies must be equal.
4) Mouldboard height: all the tops and bottoms of the mouldboards should be in a straight line. This can be checked by eye or using a string.
Once the plough has been aligned, the other basic settings can be carried out in the field.
Firstly the skim coulters should be set. The working depth should be set between 20-50mm maximum. If set too deep the furrow will be left open.
Next the frame should be set correctly. The plough should be adjusted so that the frame is parallel with the ground and all the bodies ploughing at the same depth. Adjustment is made via the top link on the tractor 3 point linkage (see below diagram)
The other important frame setting is to ensure that the plough legs are 90° to the ground when in work (see below diagram). This is to ensure that the land is ploughed level and at a consistant depth. This is adjusted by the means of a screw on either side of the headstock of the plough
Finally the frount furrow width should be set. As stated earlier this can be set initially by the inside rear wheel of the tractor. From there is is also adjustment on the plough either a manual screw system or hydraulic ram. It is important to remember that the plough and tractor must work in line, with the top link running straight behind the tractor.
This is just a brief overview of the basic plough settings, ploughs come in many shapes and sizes. See Ellis Machinery's full range of ploughs here.