Question: I have a piece of ground that has a hard pan at 10" to 12" deep. I am looking to move to vertical tillage. Will our old disk chisel shatter the hard pan better than an inline ripper?
Answer: You have to get below that hard pan. That puts you in the 13" minimum that you have to get down to. That can be hard for a disk chisel to do. You have to take out the hard pan, and bear in mind, you’ll probably only get a third of it out the first year. It could take you several passes over the next few years to get that hard pan out of there completely.
With vertical tillage you have to achieve complete shatter across the top. Whether you can get your chisel in that deep and get complete shatter is questionable. It requires a lot of horsepower to get the tool to the minimum depth you have to reach. For example, if you’re on 28" centers, then you need to get 14" deep at a minimum, and so forth. There are a number of different versions of disk chisels, and my guess is yours won’t reach that layer. If it does, then you’re probably OK.
For instance, if I had a Case IH 870 disk chisel and ran it 13" deep, and I could pull it, I could take that hard pan out over time. However, when you reach for a hard pan that’s at the furthest reach of your depth window, it will usually keep that chisel plow out. What happens is that tool will get down to the layer and then bounce on top of it. If you can’t get below the hard pan or pull the disk chisel, then you need to go to an inline ripper.
The deeper the hard pan, the more difficult it is to take it out. If it’s in the top 4" of your ground you can blow it out with a chisel plow, but down in that 13" range it can be tough. You may have to go with an inline ripper one year and then use a chisel plow to finish the ground.