Del Voight says if farmers have been no-tilling for some time, there are some considerations that may improve their no-till system:
1. During fall harvest operations of corn and soybeans be sure to spread the residue evenly across the field. If a custom operator is selected be sure his rear spreader is engaged and working properly. Planters are able to compensate for variable depths across the field but by simply spreading the residue evenly over the field the planter will maintain a more uniform depth and result in even stand emergence. Too late? Then consider managing the fodder this winter with a rake or other device to spread it evenly.
2. Several fields I visited this season after planting exhibited pH induced deficiencies. Although the overall plow depth pH was optimum the surface two inches surrounding the seed was in some cases 4.0 or below. Be sure to gather 2 inch as well as 6 inch depth soil samples. You might find as Dr. Beegle recommends that lime applications yearly in these scenarios to offset nitrogen induced pH problems will correct the problem.
3. Check for slugs this fall. Dr. Ron Hammond The Ohio State University discusses the how to of assessing slug populations this fall.
"Slug sampling can be done this fall by placing about 10 square foot boards or roofing shingles throughout the field on the ground. Cups of beer can be placed in the soil underneath the boards to attract slugs. If beer is used, the shingles should be sampled the following morning. If only the boards are used, we would recommend sampling underneath the boards after a few days. Sampling would be most beneficial during warmer nights without frost, and is best done a few times during the fall."
4. Remove weeds and eliminate planting issues as well as eliminate cutworm egg laying sites. Many herbicide programs are offered for fall application that will keep fields that do not have a cover crop(great idea to put oats or other crops in to take the place of weeds) clean of weeds. In addition, when the cutworm moths migrate to the north in April to find egg laying sites, such as chickweed, you would have eliminated the chance for them to get a foot hold in that field.
5. Perennial weeds and crops should be sprayed this fall to eliminate be ready for spring planting. Research suggests September applications improve the control of tough weeds like thistles, hemp dogbane, and dandelion with a fall systemic herbicide. Grass and alfalfa fields that will be planted in the spring to a full season crop like corn should be killed this fall to provide an ideal seed bed next year. If the leaves of the plants are green and growing it is not too late to apply the herbicides. Once the leaves turn brown it is too late.
6. Consider pasture and hay field clean up with a systemic herbicide (dicamba, 2,4-D) now to ensure unwanted perennials in the stand are removed from the sod. Plan to over-seed this winter to fill the voids. Again if the leaves are in good shape then the products will work properly.
7. Finally, why not calibrate the spray monitor, overhaul/calibrate the planter, and service equipment this fall before winter sets in (and dealers get backed up) to ensure that when planting time comes all is in order to take advantage of the spring planting window?