CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION(S)
This application claimed the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/680,377 entitled “Tile Plow” filed Aug. 7, 2012 by R. Bockman and R. Preston. The aforementioned U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/680,377 is hereby incorporated by reference.
The present invention relates to drainage installations for agricultural land. More particularly, the present disclosure relates to tile plows for installing underground flexible tubing lines.
Drainage tile plows are most typically employed by farmers for installing underground flexible tubing as a water management strategy to improve yield, drought resistance, and timeliness of access to their fields. The tile plow is pulled behind a tractor. As the tractor pulls the plow through the ground, the plow temporarily creates a trench into which the flexible tubing is installed. The foremost tip of the implement cuts a subsurface on which flexible tubing is laid. Favorable drainage characteristics depend upon good control of the installed tubing, including the depth and grade of the profile created by the implement, which is typically at a slope.
In order to properly position and install the sub surface tiling system, the topography of the land must be determined. This can be done utilizing global position systems (GPS) or laser levels. Current systems typically utilize a single sensor or receiver to assess the topography and position the tile plow at the proper grade. However, such systems can not adjust for errors introduced into the system, such as encountering subsurface obstruction with the tiling plow.
A tile plow includes a horizontal beam and a shoe extending downwardly from the beam. The beam and shoe are supported on a rear wheel assembly, and a front linkage assembly. The beam is connected to the rear wheel assembly and the front linkage assembly through a bracket connected to the beam. The beam and shoe are movable between a raised transport position and a lowered plowing position. The position of the rear wheel assembly and front linkage assembly is controlled by a slave hydraulic system for raising and lowering the tile plow. A secondary hydraulic outlet adjusts the rear hydraulic cylinders relative to the front hydraulic cylinders. When the tile plow is laying a tile line, the rear wheels are positioned substantially behind the shoe.
In some embodiments, the tile plow may also include covering blade assemblies attached to each side of the wheel assembly. The blades are rigid bars that angle outward from the rear of the tile plow towards the front of the tile plow.
In some embodiments, the tile plow includes a dual sensor arrangement. A leading sensor is adjacent the front portion, and a trailing sensor is adjacent the rear portion. The trailing sensor may be placed directly above the tiling chute. The sensors are each connected to control valves to position the depth, or grade, of the tiling plow.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is an elevation view of a tile plow in the transport position.
FIG. 2 is an elevation view of the tile plow in the engaged position.
FIG. 3 is a top plan view of the tile plow.
FIG. 4 is an elevation view of the shoe and cutting edge of the tile plow.
FIG. 4A is a bottom plan view of a first embodiment of the shoe.
FIG. 4B is a bottom plan view of a second embodiment of the shoe.
FIG. 5 is a plan view of plates used in construction of the cutting edge.
FIG. 6 is an elevation view of a tile plow with dual sensors.
FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a tile plow in the transport position.
FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the tile plow being lowered into the engaged position.
FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the tile plow in the engaged position.
FIG. 10 is a rear elevation view of the tile plow.
FIG. 11 is a perspective view of the rear portion of the tile plow.
FIG. 12 is an elevation view of a rear portion attached to the beam of the tile plow in the transport position.
FIG. 13 is a front perspective view of the tile plow.
FIG. 14 is a front elevation view of the tile plow.
FIG. 15 is a perspective view of the front portion of the tile plow.
FIG. 16 is a perspective view of the back wheel assembly.
FIG. 17 is a rear elevation view of the tile plow frame in the engaged position.
FIG. 18 is a rear perspective view of the tile plow frame in the engaged position.
FIG. 19 is an elevation view of the rear portion attached to the beam of the tile plow in the engaged position.
FIG. 20 is a front perspective view of the tile plow in the engage position.
FIG. 21 is an elevation view of the beam with mounting plates.
FIG. 22 is a rear elevation view of the front mounting plate.
FIG. 23 is a rear elevation view of the front mounting plate.
FIG. 24 is a perspective view of the tile plow being assembled.
FIGS. 1 and 2 show a tile plow 10 hitched to the drawbar of a tractor 12 in a disengaged (transport) position (FIG. 1) and an engaged (working) position (FIG. 2). FIG. 3 is a top plan view of the tile plow 10 in the engaged position. The tile plow 10 is comprised of a beam 14 pivotally coupled to a front portion 16 and a rear portion 18.
Rigidly mounted to the beam 14 is a shoe 20. As shown, the shoe 20 extends downward from the beam 14 at its trailing end. The upper portion of the shoe 20 includes a main vertical tube 22 at its trailing portion which is hollow and has a generally rectangular cross section. Just ahead of the vertical tube 22 is a slanted front portion 24 which slants inward from the vertical tube 22 to the front of the shoe 20. The slanted front portion 24 has a generally triangular cross section. The front portion 24 of the shoe 20 includes a blade 26 which is preferably comprised of a strip of quarter inch steel which forms the front edge of the shoe 20. As shown, the shoe angles forward slightly. The angle of the shoe creates a lifting action on the dirt as the shoe 20 moves through the ground.
A wedge 28 is coupled to the beam 14 and the front portion 24 of the shoe 20. The wedge 28 has a generally triangular cross section with the point of the triangle shape being the leading edge of the wedge 28. In this way, the wedge 28 serves the purpose of pushing soil outward as the tile plow 10 moves through a field.
Shoe 20 is shown in greater detail in FIGS. 4-5. The leading edge of the shoe 20 comes to a point where a cutting edge 30 is formed. The cutting edge 30 is formed from two plates 70 and 71 which are rolled into curved plates and plug welded together through apertures 72 in the bottom plate 70. The radius of curvature is great, greater than 100 inches in exemplary embodiments (such as 118 inches in a particular embodiment), to minimize the slope created by the cutting edge 30. Top plate 70 is fabricated from an abrasion resistant material. There are hexagonally shaped holes 73 in the top plate 71, and round holes 74 in the bottom plate that form the recessed shoulders in the holes for the insertion of fasteners such as typical hexagonally shaped bolts. The two plates 70 and 71 are constructed form a hardened material, and are fabricated with plasma cutting processes. The cutting edge 30 may be of different profiles, as illustrated in FIGS. 4A and 4B. In FIG. 4A, the profile has a narrow lead in portion on the top plate 70 that terminates at the full, straight cutting edge 77. In the embodiment of FIG. 4B, the cutting edge 30 has a generally triangular profile 78.
Additional plates 75 and 76 are also attached as part of shoe 20, and are positioned adjacent plates 70 and 71 to create a surface for the soil to travel upon during operation of the tile plow 10. The angle of the additional plates 75 and 76 is greater than that of the plates 70 and 71. The cutting edge 30 angles only slightly downward (preferably less than 15 degrees from the horizontal) in the direction of movement of the tile plow 10 which greatly reduces the power required to pull the plow 10, while the greater angle of plates 75 and 76 promote the movement of soil upwards a greater angle as the tile plow 10 moves forward. The flat angle of the cutting edge 30 and the weight transfer created by the position of the wheels 62 allow the plow 10 to be pulled much easier than prior art plows.
A hollow channel is formed through the shoe 20 and the beam 14, as shown in FIG. 2, for allowing tubing, cables, or plastic tile 32 to be fed through the beam 14 and shoe 20. The tile 32 exits the shoe 20 at the opening 34 which has a rounded lower surface 35 as shown in FIGS. 3 and 5 which by clearing dirt, provides a trench with a curved bottom.
Coupled to the shoe 20 near the opening 34 is a flexible flap 36, which is preferably comprised of two layers of material. The upper layer of material is preferably comprised of rubber belting which is used for strength. The bottom layer is preferably comprised of plastic so that the flap 36 can easily slide over the tubing being installed, such as tile 32 which is flexible and porous plastic tubing. The flap 36 holds the tile firmly in the trench while allowing dirt to filter slowly around the tile as the tile plow 10 moves through the field. The flap 36 also prevents rocks from denting the plastic tile 32 as the dirt and rocks fall into the trench. The flexible flap 36 is preferably six inches wide and eighteen inches long.
The trailing edge of the shoe 20 is formed by a quarter inch steel sheet 38 which extends along the back of the shoe 20 and beam 14. A brace 40 comprised of a 2×2 inch steel tube helps to strengthen the sheet 38. The sheet 38 provides strength to the tile plow 10 but also divides the trench dug by the shoe 20 in half so that large dirt clods or rocks cannot fall into the trench until the sheet 38 has passed the trench. This help to prevent damage to the tile 32 by debris falling onto the tile 32.
The beam 14 and shoe 20 have narrow profiles. In one embodiment, the beam 14 has a rectangular cross section. Alternatively, an I-beam could be used. Since the beam 14 is narrow, when dirt comes up the shoe 20 during use, the wedge 28 is able to push the dirt aside from the beam 14. There is nothing which allows the dirt to build up on the shoe 20 or the beam 14. The trench dug by the tile plow 10 is about 8 inches wide in an exemplary embodiment.
The front portion 16 includes two parallel hitch beams 42 which form a front linkage between the tractor 12 and beam 14. The hitch beams 42 are each rotatably coupled to the cat hitch 44 of the tile plow 10 at one end and the beam 14 at the other end. Two hydraulic cylinders 46 are each pivotally coupled at one end to a bracket 15 welded to the beam 14 and at the other end to one of the hitch beams 42.
The rear portion 18 is comprised of a wheel assembly 48 and a rear linkage 50 attached to beam 14 via bracket 19. Similar to the front linkage formed by the hitch beams 42, the rear linkage 50 includes two parallel beams 52 which are pivotally coupled at one end to the beam 14 at bracket 19 and rigidly coupled to a transverse beam 54 at the other end. Brackets 19 and 15 welded to beam 14 each contain circular apertures for connecting to cylinders 58 and 46 with a pin connection. The brackets 15 and 19 are fabricated separately and welded to beam 14. Two cross braces 56 are welded to each of the beams 52 for strength. Two hydraulic cylinders 58 are pivotally mounted at one end to the top of the beam 14 and at the other end to a bracing assembly 60 comprised of five strips of half inch by four inch steel welded to the beams 52 and transverse beam 54. The wheel assembly 48 is comprised of two sets of two wheels 62 mounted to a spacer 64. The spacer 64 is rotatably mounted to the transverse beam 52. The combination of the transverse beam 52, the spacers 64 and the wheels 62 forms a four wheeled base coupled to the rear linkage 50.
When the hydraulic cylinders 46 and 58 are retracted, the beam 14 is lowered such that the tile plow 10 moves to the lowered plowing position shown in FIG. 2. In contrast, when the hydraulic cylinders 46 and 58 are extended, the beam 14 is raised so that the tile plow 10 moves to the raised transport position shown in FIG. 1. The front linkage also serves the purpose of keeping the tile plow 10 upright if the wheels 62 are raised inadvertently while the tile plow 10 is stationary.
When the tile plow 10 is in the raised position, the shoe 20 is above ground level and the tile plow 10 can be transported or moved to the starting point in the field to be tiled. When the tile plow 10 is lowered to the lowered position, the shoe 20 will be lowered into the ground as shown in FIG. 2. In this position, the tile plow can be used to dig a trench and lay tubing or cable as illustrate.
When the tile plow 10 is in the lowered position, the distance from the hitch 44 to the beam 14 is the same as the distance from the wheel assembly 48 to the beam 14 which keeps the tile plow 10 level while it is moved between the raised and lowered positions. The long length of the tile plow in the lowered position, in combination with the wide wheel span of the rear wheel assembly 48 results in performance superior to those systems employing differing designs. The wide wheel span provides clearance between the wheels 62 and the plowed trench which keeps the wheels 62 from running over uneven terrain caused by the tile plow 10. Spacing the wheels 62 apart at predetermined intervals also allows the tile plow to travel through the rows of row crops such as corn or sunflowers.
The wheel assembly 48 is a carriage system that is located well behind the shoe 20 when the plow 10 is in the lowered position. This transfers more weight to the draw bar of the tractor, which increases traction. The position of the wheel assembly 48 also enables the shoe 20 of the plow 10 to maintain a more consistent level grade while the wheels 62 go over uneven terrain behind the shoe 20. In the lowered position, the tile plow has a very narrow profile in the middle of the plow 10. Therefore, the flow of disturbed soil under the main horizontal beam 14 is less restricted than with prior art tile plows.
The wheel assembly 48 may contain covering blade assemblies 66 and 68, which are minor images of one another. The blades are rigid structures, such as bars or plates, that angle outward from the rear of the tile plow towards the front of the tile plow. The angle is created by having a longer connection beam extending from the carriage system towards the rear of the tile plow 10 than the connection beam towards the front of the tile plow 10. The blade connected therebetween will then be at a decreasing angle from the front to the rear, and be centered over the trench created by cutting edge 30 of shoe 20.
The covering blades assemblies 66 and 68 pivot on the walking tandem arms 65 for the wheels, and may be supported by a linkage or chain to the wheel assembly of the tile plow 10. Thus, when the tile plow 10 is in the transport position, the covering blade assemblies 66 and 68 are also raised and do not contact the ground. In the engaged position, the covering blade assemblies 66 and 68 contact the ground and direct soil removed by the tile plow 10 towards the trench created during operation to minimize the disruption of the field surface.
FIG. 6 illustrates another embodiment of the tile plow 10. In this embodiment, two sensors are mounted to the tile plow 10. A leading sensor 80 is attached adjacent the front portion 16, and a trailing sensor 82 is attached adjacent the rear portion 18. In one embodiment, trailing sensor 82 is mounted just above the tile chute where tile 32 is installed into the ground. The aforementioned design of utilizing separate hydraulic cylinders 46 and 58 at the front portion 16 and rear portion 18 respectively, allow for an improved system of controlling the tile plow 10 to achieve a desired result during installation of the tile 32.
The leading sensor 80 detects a signal, such as from a global position system (GPS) or a laser level system. The signal is utilized to control operation of an automatic valve that controls the hydraulic cylinders 46 at front portion 16 of tile plow 10. The automatic valve may be incorporated into the tractor pulling tile plow 10, or may be a separate valve provided on the tile plow 10 located between the cylinders 46 and the source of hydraulic power from the tractor. The leading sensor is utilized to position the front portion 16 of tile plow 10 to an intended grade path. The trailing sensor 82 is utilized to adjust the rear portion 18 of the tile plow 10 to the same intended grade path. Similar to the leading sensor 80, the trailing sensor 82 produces a signal that is utilized to control an automatic valve that controls the hydraulic cylinders 58 of rear portion 18.
With a GPS system, the leading sensor 80 is programmed for the desired grade path. The trailing sensor 82 is programmed to follow the same grade path. If the plow boot hits a small rock or similarly encounters an obstruction in the desire path, a grade error is detected by the trailing sensor 82, and the trailing sensor 82 is programmed to adjust the grade path so that both the leading sensor 80 and trailing sensor 82 follow the new grade path. The aforementioned arrangement will eliminate dips in the newly installed tile 32. Such dips may create water pools that can not flow naturally out of the tile 32, which causes sediment to form. The sediment will decrease the effective area of the tiling, thus minimizing the effectiveness of the system.
The dual sensor arrangement provides precise pitch or slope control of the plow frame, which is in a fixed position in relation to the cutting point 30 of the tile plow 10. The dual sensor configuration provides an opportunity to have the trailing sensor 82 further adjust the grade path after the leading sensor 80 does an initial positioning of the tile plow 10. This will enhance the grade accuracy while providing precise pitch control. A single sensor system can not provide the fine tuning corrections capable with the dual sensor design.
FIGS. 7-24 are photographs illustrating several embodiments of the tile plow 10.
The tile plow of the present invention operates as follows.
To hitch the tile plow 10 to a tractor 12 or bulldozer, etc., the user connects the hitch 44 of the tile plow 10 to the draw bar of the tractor via a pin. The user then connects four hydraulic hoses and an electric supply plug (for any signal lights that are used or for the laser receiver, if used). The process of hooking the tile plow 10 to the tractor normally takes only a few minutes.
Typically, when laying tile lines in a field, a user will use a back hoe to dig a hole in order to tap into existing tile lines. Once the hole is created with the back hoe, the user can drive the tractor 12 and the tile plow 10 in the raised position (FIG. 1) over the hole until the shoe 20 is positioned directly above the hole. The user then activates the primary hydraulic outlet 80 which retracts both the front and rear hydraulic cylinders 46 and 58 and lowers the tile plow 10 to the lowered position (FIG. 2) so that the shoe 20 is disposed within the hole created by the back hoe. Alternatively, the tractor 12 is driven slowly forward while the beam 14 and shoe 20 are lowered so that the shoe 20 gradually plows downwardly to the desired depth. The tile 32 is then fed through the channel formed in the tile plow 10 as described above until it can be pulled out through the opening 34. Once the tile 32 is fed through the channel, the tile plow 10 is ready to lay the tile. The tile 32 to be laid is either laid on the ground along the path or wound on the coil 66 as described above. Once the user starts to pull the tile plow 10, the cutting edge 30 of the shoe 20 as well as the blade 26 of the shoe 20 will begin to create a trench for the tile 32 to be laid into. As the tile plow 10 travels through the field, the tile 32 will be laid in the bottom of the trench as shown in FIG. 2. As the user is laying tile lines, the pitch of the shoe 20 can be adjusted by activating the second hydraulic outlet 88 to adjust the rear cylinders 58 relative to the front cylinders 46. As the tile plow 10 moves through the field, any bumps encountered by the wheels of the tractor or the wheels 62 of the tile plow, will have little effect on the level of the shoe 20 because of the placement of the wheels behind the shoe, and because of the distance between the shoe and the wheels.
If the extensions 78 are attached to the shoe 20 (FIG. 6), the extensions will bring a cross section of soil and residue to the surface as the tile plow 10 moves through the field. This enables the operator to see any debris that would indicate that an old tile line had been cut in the plowing process. If the optional disc coulter 74 is used (FIG. 6), the coulter 74 will cut debris on the surface of the field in front of the shoe 20 to prevent any plugging of the plow 10. If the laser receiver 72 is used (FIG. 6), the pitch and depth of the tile plow 10 can be automatically controlled by the laser receiver.
Once the user reaches the end of the tile line, the tile plow 10 is raised to the raised position simply by activating the primary hydraulic outlet 80 which causes the cylinders 46 and 58 to raise the shoe 20. To unhitch the tile plow 10 the user simply unhooks the four hydraulic lines, the electrical supply plug, and removes the hitch pin. Preferably, a jack (not shown) may be coupled to the hitch beams 42 to simplify the hitching and unhitching process.
While the invention has been described with reference to an exemplary embodiment(s), it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes may be made and equivalents may be substituted for elements thereof without departing from the scope of the invention. In addition, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the teachings of the invention without departing from the essential scope thereof. For example, the invention could be applied to a range of applications, including installation of underground electrical cable, fiber optic cable, or other forms of flexible pipe. Therefore, it is intended that the invention not be limited to the particular embodiment(s) disclosed, but that the invention will include all embodiments falling within the scope of the appended claims.