When you plant everything with a drill, getting surface irrigation water where you need it can be difficult.

But that's not a problem for Rodney Eaker (pronounced "acre") and his sons, Shane and Rusty.

The Eakers rotate rice and soybeans on about 3,800 acres near Harviell, MO. Virtually all of their land is put to grade to hold rice flood. When they switched from 30"-row soybeans to no-till drilled beans, uniform irrigation became more difficult.

"For awhile after we went to drilled beans, we simply turned water onto the field at the high side," says Rodney Eaker.

"That worked fairly well, although high spots didn't get irrigated and water ponded in some low places."

The Eakers disliked the idea of making an extra trip through the field to cut irrigation channels.

"What we needed was a way to form furrows and drill soybeans on the same pass," says Eaker. "But I couldn't find ready-made equipment that would let us do that."

So the Eakers decided to retrofit their 30' and 20' drills with furrow cutters. They started with Yetter square-tube toolbars designed for John Deere drills and initially designed to carry fertilizer knives. Instead of the fertilizer attachments, they clamped wavy no-till coulters and 8" irrigation shovels or sweeps every 60" along the toolbar.

"The coulters are built by Yetter, and they readily attached to the toolbar," says Eaker. "But we had to build the shanks for the sweeps."

Equipping the 20' drill was a fairly straightforward mechanical chore. They clamped on a 20' Yetter toolbar and hung the coulter-shovel units from it at 60" intervals.

The 30'-wide drill, which is actually two Deere 15' drills tied together with a Houck hydraulic hitch, took a bit more doing.

"To accommodate both the Houck Hitch and the Yetter toolbar, we had to move the dolly wheels forward on the tongue by 20"," Eaker reports.

"And to make the 60" spacing needed for the furrow cutters, we had to add a foot to the toolbar on one side."

The coulter and shovel attachment runs just ahead of the drill's planting shoes. The coulter loosens the soil, then the following shovel sweeps out an irrigation furrow 4-5" deep.

To irrigate soybeans, the Eakers unroll poly pipe across the end of the field, with the pipe's perforations aligned with 60" furrow spacings.

"It works very well with our fields put to grade," says Eaker. "After rice harvest, we pull down levees and roll the rice straw. We work the field just enough to take out tracks, then pull a land plane over the field to get it in shape to plant."

When it's time to plant beans, the Eakers simply hook on their no-till drills and head across the field - cutting irrigation furrows as they go.