Versatile is one way to describe the basic design behind the Precision Application Tillage Systems implement used by Joc Carpenter and Lonnie Fortner on their peanut and cotton fields near Port Gibson, Miss. A couple of changes here or there can make cotton stalks manageable in the fall or set up for strip-till in front of peanut and cotton planting in the spring.

This year, Fortner, who manages peanuts and cotton production for Carpenter, ran a six-row PATS implement configured for strip-tillage in front of the planter to prepare a seedbed for peanut planting in the spring. The unit rips 12 inches deep, seals off the bed and rolls it flat for planting. The finished bed is about 12 inches to 18 inches wide.

The unit is also used in cotton fields and has replaced a minimum-till plow. “The minimum-till implement seemed to collapse the row, and we ended up re-hipping,” Carpenter said. The PATS rig “doesn't collapse the row and we can plant right behind it.”

The basic row unit is about 7 feet long and consists of parallel linkage, ripper and rear rollers. Parallel linkage allows each row unit to ride independently. The ripper floats with the other ground-working attachments on the implement. There is no need for down pressure springs, according to Clifton Dixon, owner and developer of PATS.

A double hitch provides the versatility to perform across different crops and tillage practices:

Strip-tillage (spring, six-row units) — The implement runs in the row in various seedbed scenarios, according to Dixon. “We can either run strip-tillage on flat beds or we can condition the top of a raised bed with a strip-till attachment. In other words, we can go into a fresh bed or an old bed, subsoil, condition it and leave it smooth for planting. The ripper runs in the old cotton row. In addition, if the land is flat and the producer wants to put up a bed or reshape existing beds, he can add a bedding attachment to the rig.

Stalk destruction behind the picker in one trip (fall) — Dixon said there are a lot of potential problems with existing green cotton stalks in the fall when he's trying to rip in the same old row.

In this function of PATS, a second hitch is used to offset the row unit to the tractor middles, according to Dixon. “Row unit No. 6 is removed from the implement, making it a five-row implement. We run five rippers in the middles. We use the shields to lay the cotton stalks down, cut them up with a series of coulters and either undercut the stalks on a flat culture or use the bedding attachments to move the beds 19 inches to the right into the middle (on 38-inch rows).

“You can do away with the flail cutter or rotary mower. In one pass, the implement can take out the cotton stalks and leave the rows flat or on raised beds,” Dixon said.

In addition, the ripper is not as likely to plug because it's not running in the old cotton stalks.