The Rata Blog

Discover innovations, news and tips from NZ's own farm machinery attachments manufacturer.

Stuck Between Some Rain And A Hard Place?

Posted by Casey-lee Cranston on May 25, 2023 2:52:00 PM

Of all the years, recent weather events have got plenty of people thinking about the condition of their property and the performance of their paddocks. Our soil’s ability to deal with excessive amounts of rain, as well as the effect of several hundred hooves or heavy machinery rolling around on top of it can have a dramatic effect to your farms output and what ends up in your hip pocket.

One of the biggest factors in a crops performance regardless of type is whether its root system has to contend with a hard pan. This is all common sense stuff but if a plants root system hits a hard pan or even just a substantial change in soil density this can put the plant into what the experts call ‘root shock’ basically the roots hit that and say ‘what the hells going on here’ and the plant then has to reallocate its energy away from top growth and into helping its roots deal with the hard soil… obviously this slows the plants development where we need it most for a successful harvest or grazing. This period of ‘root shock’ can apparently put the plant in a holding pattern for up to 14 days.


And who’s to say poor old Mr Planty can even make it through that hard pan? In a worst-case scenario it’s impossible and the roots grow in a flat mass across the top of the hard pan making it susceptible to either drowning in wet conditions or adversely dying of thirst in dry conditions because it can’t access the moisture further down in the soil profile away from the hot sun. 

Compaction comes in many forms, shallower compaction layers can be created by livestock, wheeled machinery and heavy rain and deeper compaction can be caused by a paddock not being deep ripped over long periods of time and one of the worst types which is ‘smear compaction’ can be formed off the back of certain types of disc cultivators which can have a nasty habit of sending roots sideways rather than down.

aeration 1

So what’s a good solution without going overboard? The best we have found is the Rata Panerazer, an awesome machine we have sold plenty of and we have seen great results in varied conditions.

The Panerazer is a deep ripper available in 5, 7 and 9 leg configurations all of which are led by a straight coulter to help open the soil up nice and cleanly. With a max working depth of 450mm the Panerazer will reach almost all compaction layers that are a concern for kiwi farmers whilst still retaining the all-important soil structure. Horsepower requirements range from 120hp to 190hp and of course varies with configuration and soil type, but as far as deep tillage machines go the Panerazer is on the less thirsty end of the scale.


The standard configuration is with what Rata dub the ‘Pasture Point’ which gives the paddock a nice clean finish and opens the soil up for moisture penetration and a freer root run. You can also get a ‘Winged Foot’ which will give the soil more lift and shatter the soil structure that bit more.

The legs come with a nice modular design so you can replace the worn parts individually rather than having to fork out for complete units, and setup is as simple as it gets and is adjusted by the roller height and the tractors 3 point linkage.

On your next walk around the farm take a shovel and have a wee dig, you might be interested in what you find 300mm under the soil surface and maybe a Panerazer has its place on your property.

To find out more check on the Rata website link below and in the case of tillage equipment a picture really is worth a thousand words so have a good snoop. 

Find out more on the Rata Subsoil Aerator for your operation-

Author- Chris Bain, Piako Tractors

Topics: Working Safer, Tips, Hacks & How To's, Working Smarter, Pasture & Crop Management, Soil Aeration & Drainage