As a third-generation farmer from Chapman Valley WA, Rocks Gone founder and inventor Tim Pannell knew all too well the problems that rocky land poses for farmers
The hydraulic Reefinator H4 can crush rock layers while it deep rips and prepares once useless ground for crop growing with access to deeper soil moisture and nutrients
When Rocks Gone debuted its Reefinator rock crusher in 2015 it was an instant hit with Western Australian farmers looking to renovate rock-encrusted land that could not be used for cropping.
Close to two hundred Reefinators have now been sold, and five years on from its successful launch, the Reefinator is migrating into South Australia and Victoria through WSB Distributors.
Invented by Rocks Gone founder and farmer, Tim Pannell, the Reefinator is a multi-pass machine that digs up and crushes rock fast and efficiently.
A towed implement, the Reefinator has a grate, much like a cheese grater, that holds down the rock and rips up manageable lumps that can be crushed by the following roller. After several passes, the biggest lumps of rock you’ll find are only the size of a fist.
To tow the 28-tonne H4 Reefinator you’ll need a four-wheel drive tractor with a power rating in excess of 331kW (450hp) or you can get away with about 294kW (400hp) with a track model.
The Reefinator is designed to be simple, durable, and low cost to operate. The designated wear parts and weak points are quick and easy to replace, while the rest of the implement is tough and ready to withstand thousands of hours of work.
“Farmers now have the very real option of increasing soil depth, which has a range of agronomic benefits including greater water and nutrient holding capacity, and greater rooting depth which also then helps with crop and pasture resilience in times of crop stress,” Tim Pannell said.
Tim has previously estimated some $210 million could be added to the West Australian farming economy if 350,000ha of shallow land is converted into productive land.
West Australian farmers with lateritic soils have sung the praises of the Reefinator right across the wheatbelt and now the same can be said of South Australia, as farmers there watch their once unproductive land yielding profitable crops and boosting farm values.
Designed as a multi-pass machine, the Reefinator has a cable-suspended levelling blade that levels out already crushed soil and rock before the tines get to it
The most recent iteration of Tim Pannell’s machine is the hydraulically assisted heavy-duty Reefinator with a 3m working width.
This machine endured some 2500 hours of testing in a range of rocky soil types from granite and hematite to magnetite and sheet ironstone.
It is able to work deeper in a wider range of rock types and hardpans. It can also work through stubble, with tines set at 335mm (13-inch) spacings, opening up a way of renovating previously poor performing paddocks for pasture and cropping.
“Initially we were aiming to design something specific to deal with the very tough basalt throughout Victoria and New South Wales but over the two years of testing around different parts of Western Australia we realised it was going to have a much wider application and was going to be perfect for the areas in WA that needed something with a bit more grunt and could dig deeper,” Tim said.
“Eastern States farmers have shown they want a machine that can get deep into tough basalt rock which forms part of a lot of cropped and pasture country as opposed to mainly laterite country in WA and the limestone in South Australia.
“It has been designed to rip soil that has never been ripped at depth before, not like a deep ripper as such, but a primary ripper, the first ripper across untouched land.”
The latest Reefinator has been dubbed the H4 with the H designating that it’s a hydraulically operated machine and as such, there are no shear pins on the tines.
There are four leading tines and five at the rear coupled with a cable-suspended levelling blade that levels out already crushed soil and rock before the tines get to it.
The hydraulic system incorporates a 32-litre accumulator designed to handle up to 3000psi pressure, while prescribed working pressure is between 1000 to 1500psi.
Hoses running off the cylinders are 25mm (1-inch) in diameter to accommodate high speed flow out of the cylinders on impact.
All rams and pivot points are on spherical, mostly greasable bearings, specifically designed to be maintenance-free working so close to the ground.
After several passes, the Reefinator leaves behind residual rocks that are no bigger than a fist. The H4 Reefinator’s tines rip out the rock to be crushed by the maasive following roller. The H4’s hydraulic system features a 32-litre accumulator designed to handle up to 3000psi pressure
The H4 will dig to a depth of 450mm (18-inches), as opposed to the 200mm (8-inches) maximum depth for the original Reefinator, with the ability to raise the leading rank of tines out of work to go deeper and quicker.
Weighing 28 tonnes with 6000-litres of water ballast on board, you’ll need a four-wheel drive tractor with a power rating in excess of 331kW (450hp) to tow the H4, or you can get away with about 294kW (400hp) with a track machine.
According to Tim, wheels are better on rocky country, with working speeds between eight and 12kph, depending on conditions.
Tyre pressure varies between 8 and 13psi while a big advantage is the heavy duty “industrial” cushion hitch, designed to absorb harsh forces.
Force dissipation is inherent in most components.
According to Tim, the H4 will drag over anything because of the hydraulics and operators won’t usually need to ease pressure. Tree roots are easily smashed and even if you hit a blue granite rock, for example, the tines will just float over it as long as the pressure isn’t set too high, and you can just keep going.
“This makes a big difference in productivity because it’s less jerky with almost no catching or dragging,” Tim said.
To talk to inventor Tim Pannell about opening up cleaner cropping ground, call on tel: 08 9288 2993 or mobile 0429 203 039, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org or view the H4 Reefinator video at: https://www.rocksgone.com.au/reefinator-h4
Also see more model information at: ag.rocksgone.com.au
For growers in South Australia and Victoria talk to WSB Distributors on tel: 08 8842 2177, mobile: 0419 828 802, or email: email@example.com