No-Till Briefs: December 2023

Diverse Rotations Improve Soil Biology, Yields

Corn had the highest biomass when it followed peas or sunflowers, and the lowest biomass when it followed soybeans, according to a 2-year USDA research study. Higher biomass is an indicator of higher yield. Michael Lehman, USDA soil microbiologist, says the fungal community after peas and sunflowers tends to have more beneficial fungi, while the microbial community after soybeans had more probable plant pathogens. 

Chuntao Yin, USDA soil microbiologist, participated in a study that compared spring wheat yields following winter wheat, winter canola, winter triticale and spring wheat. The researchers found that spring wheat yields were significantly lower when following winter canola. 

“The mycorrhizal fungi are dramatically decreased, but some fungal pathogens are significantly increased,” Yin says. “The takeaway message for this study is microbial legacy is a very important consideration to design the crop rotation.” Read more

Adjust Corn Head Angle for Harvest

Using the right angle of attack improves the wear life of your corn head and the effectiveness of the stalk rolls. No-Till Legend Marion Calmer recommends parking the combine on a level surface and lowering the header until the lowest point of the row unit is approximately 2 inches above the ground. Then place a protractor on the plates to measure the angle. Calmer says aim for an angle of 23-25 degrees in standing corn. Read more

Covers Reduce Inputs, Maintain Yield

Mitchell Hora, a Washington, Iowa, no-tiller and founder of Continuum Ag, credits cover crops with maintaining strong yields…

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