At first glance, Knuckeys’ newest product offering looks like a cultivator or seeder, with its multi-disc, compaction rollers and cage rollers setup.
It was in fact, a wheel track renovator featuring a well-thought out design that works in a four step process to fill in wheel ruts in paddocks, so heavy equipment can continue to safely travel through the grounds without being bogged.
Knuckeys, a farm machinery manufacturer based in Winchelsea (Victoria), said the idea for the machine came about after the company was approached by local farmers who were having problems with wheel ruts on their controlled traffic farming operations.
“They’ve tried a number of different solutions on the market but they weren’t doing the job they were after,” said Knuckeys’ co-owner, Warwick Knuckey.
“So we worked with them over three years to come up with the design for this machine and get it to this stage where we are able to use it in the paddock and do a magnificent job.”
The finished product – the Knuckeys wheel track renovator made its official debut at the Elmore field days in October last year.
According to Knuckey, most other machines on the market either cut up too much soil hence not doing a proper job of filling in the ruts, or are not flexible enough to be custom suited to different ground conditions.
To fix that issue, Knuckeys came up with a cultivator-like machine to ensure the wheel ruts are fixed for good.
“With our machine, it’s a four step process,” Knuckey said.
“We have 24-inch wide discs at the front to cut the sidewalls and fold the soil back in as well as cut the hard pan of the side wall,” he said.
“They’re then followed by compaction rollers that compress the wheel track and leave a small mound of soil in the tracks because we want more soil in there than we need at this point.
“That is followed by six discs set up in a speed tiller configuration that work the top of the mound, flattening it out and cutting up any hard clay clods that are left there.
“Then, the following cage roller will flatten the soil completely so the tracks are left without a mound, and if anything a slight indentation that the next machine can follow.”
Working widths and the amount of discs on the wheel track renovator can be adjusted to suit different needs.
“Another factor with this machine was it needed to be flexible with different soil types and different conditions,” Knuckey said.
“The machine had to be variable in width, so we made it in a way that operators can simply bolt and unbolt a section of the machine which will then change the width of the machine from 2m to 4.5m, for example” he said.
“You can also change the amount of discs you want at the front of the machine to have three to four discs either side of the track.
“In Western Australia where there is more sand, they’d be trying to filter in a lot more sand from out wider whereas in western Victoria, it is just returning the side wall and what is spilled out on top of the side wall back into the track.”
Knuckeys’ wheel track renovator has been built heavy, weighing between three and a half to four tonnes depending on the size of the arms or amount of discs on the machine. Therefore, a tractor of about 200hp and above is required to tow and operate the wheel track renovator.
“This machine takes four hydraulic remotes for the hydraulic fold, the hydraulics on the compact roller and hydraulics on the cage rollers,” Knuckey said.
Another feature on the wheel track renovator which Knuckeys said other machines lack is the depth wheels, which follow along the top of seed beds to keep a level surface for the machine to work on.
“What we found without the depth wheels, the machine just follows and drops into a rut along with the tractor. So all it’s doing is cultivating the same shape in the ground that’s already there.
“So the depth wheels with the hydraulics in float keep the machine parallel to the ground and not continuing to cut that same pattern back in the ground, leaving a nice flat finish.
“The depth wheels also allow the driver to concentrate on what’s ahead rather than having to look behind all the time seeing where the machine is located.”
Knuckeys’ wheel track renovator is priced from about $45,000 +.
Knuckey’s manufacture and supply agricultural equipment for farming customers throughout Australia. This includes our own range of agricultural machinery plus a large range of agricultural equipment, supplies and spare parts from leading local and international manufacturers.