by Wayne Dinsmore
Editor's note: This material is excerpted from a paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers, December 27, 1921, and published in the February 1922 issue of Agricultural Engineering. The information is still valid For small farmers today.
It has been found possible to drive teams 20 miles per day in a ten-hour day on various farm implements and to maintain this rate week after week. This allows two hours for driving to and from fields, hitching and unhitching, turning at ends, and occasional examination of collars. It require* that teams shalil actually be in motion on productive work eight hours per day at an average speed of two and ant'-hair miles pec hour. When fresh, horses «ill exceed this; when weary, they will not equal it, but it is a practical standard, attained where sufficient horses or mules are used to permit steady driving, without stops to rest animals. Whenever teams require stops for rest, not enough power is being used. Put on another horse or a pair, or more if necessary, but add enough so that you can turn 20 miles of soil per day and not overdo the teams. The number of horses needed will depend on the hardness of the ground, the depth to which implements are cutting, the weather, and the age, size, and condition of the work animals used, so that each man must use "horse sense" and gauge his teams according to power needed.
Twenty miles of productive work daily means 5.6 acres plowed with two bottom gangs, 14-inch plows; 24 acres double disked with ten-foot disev and trailer attachment; 70 acres harrowed with six-section harrows (five-foot sections); and as these soil preparation ¿asks are the ones requiring the most time, they also offer the greatest opportunity for cutting costs by increasing work done per day.
Disking is the greatest labor-saving soil tillage operation. On good farms it precedes and follows plowing.. It pulverizes trash, kills weeds, conserves moisture and makes easier and better plowing. The 20-bIade, ten-foot discs now available are usually drawn by six horses, but often need eight for steady progress, especially early in the spring when the horses are soft. One rule governs: Use "horse sense," and if you see the load is too heavy for the number of horses you are using, put on more, until there is enough power attached to allow the horses to walk at a gootl pace all day. You hire men to accomplish work, not to sit out in the field waiting for horses to rest and recuperate, and it is sound economy to furnish plenty of power, especially as one more horse, or a pair, will turn the bnlancc between overload and ample power.
Plowing is heavy work, made worse by the general practice of crowding the horses too closely together and by failure to hitch on the true center of draft. On every plow, whether one-bottom or more, there is a point of hitch termed the center of draft and when the hitch is made at this point, the plow pulls with less exertion than when the hitch is made at a point more distant from the furrow. On a gang plow, two 14-snch bottoms, this center of draft is approximately 16 inches from furrow wall or 23 inches from the center of furrow when plows are cutting full, even furrows as they should. This means, therefore, that the eveners must be of such length, and the horses so hitched, as to give a straight forward pull over the true center of draft. This cannot be attained with four or more horses except by putting a horse or horses on plowed land, or by stringing the horses, so as to put the right-hand horse in the furrow and the others on solid ground. This causes the horses to pull the plows at great disadvantage, and the extra load thus created is called side draft.
Every farmer should recognize that it is just as easy to drive four, five, or six horses as it is to drive two, providing they are properly hitched; and the ease with which eight, ten, and even 16 horses are handled in the West by hired men who never before drove more than two or four is evidence, if proof be needed, that thee is no real obstacle to multiplying the amount of work done per man per day. The size of the units, however, must depend largely upon the size of the farm. On a 100-acre farm, there are seldom more than SO acres in tilled land, and four good horses are ample to operate such acreage. The implements purchased and the hitches used should therefore be based on a four-horse unit. This calls for six-foot discs with trailers (I2-disc units), two-bottom gang plows of 14-inch bottoms and four-section harrows, together with seeders not over ten feet in length. Other implements should be proportionate. All these can be handled by four good horses, although if the ground is full of stones or ledges of rock, gang plows cannot be operated satisfactorily. Under such conditions, it is wise to use 14- or 16-inch walking plows with three horses, which are the oldest but most satisfactory plow units for use on such land.
Or, farms that have around 150 acres in tilled iand, six good horses or mules will be needed. Here, with fields of 30 acres or over, six-horse units can be used on discs, plows, and harrows, which are the implements chiefly used in the preparation of the seedbed. It is in soil preparation that the greatest saving
A hitch for twelve horses on two tandem disc harrows cutting ail hoof prints except on turns.
A dimension drawing of tandem hitch for eight horses pulling a three-bottom plow to maintain true line of draft.
in manual labor can be effected. One man, by using six-horse units wherever possible, can handle all the work on a farm containing 150 acres of tilled land, until time for corn plowing, tints cutting down the need for an extra farm hand to the months of June, July, and August—three months instead of six.
On larger farms of 400 to 1,000 acres, the use of 7- up to 16-horse units on various farm implements is both practical and desirable.
The great advantage about this seven-abreast or tune-abreast hitch is that it gives an absolutely straight pull over the true center of draft ancl the horses are back next to the plow and are so hitched ancl driven as to make it possible for anyone to handle the team very easily. The only disadvantage that can be charged against the hitches in question is the fact that they require three or four of the horses to walk on the plowed land. The actual experience of men who have worked these seven, eight, or nine horses abreast on plows shows conclusively that this objectio" has no serious weight. The strongest, toughest horses, best able to withstand the work, should be put on the plowed land and they will keep pace with the others so that no slackening in mileage per day will result. The details of these hitches are fully shown in the illustrations.
Three-bottom gang plows (14-inch bottoms) will turn 8.4 acres per day; four-bottom gang plows (14-inch bottoms) will turn 11.3 acres per day; two eight-foot discs hitched abreast with trailer attachments (double disking a strip 16 feet wide) will double disk 38 acres per day; an eight-section harrow (five-foot sections) lapping one foot each round, will harrow 94 acres per day, and the three seeders (one 12 feet and two 11 feet) will seed 80 acres per day.
So it was in 1922, and so it can be again now that the population of draft horses is increasing, along with the availability of equipment, as the following listings illustrate.
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