Can You Use Vertical Tillage Without Destroying No-Till?

Four years of studies in Kansas show the practice won’t destroy no-tilled soils overnight, but won’t make no-till management issues completely disappear, either.

There's much debate in the no-till community about whether a quick, shallow pass with a vertical-tillage tool will ruin the benefits of no-tilled fields.
For the last 4 years, Kansas State University Extension soils specialist DeAnn Presley has made it her mission to find out.
Presley has helped spearheaded research in the state to assess the effects of vertical-tillage practices on residue coverage and mass, disease incidence and severity, soil- and residue-borne pathogens, soil moisture and bulk density, and yields.
Presley shared the results of this research to date during a recent No-Till Farmer webinar sponsored by Salford. Here’s a summary of what Presley and her research team have found.
Effects On Soil. Presley began studying vertical tillage in 2009 on a farm in Jefferson County in northeastern Kansas that had been no-tilled since the 1980s. The effects of vertical tillage were measured against no-till for bulk density, soil aggregate weight diameter, water infiltration and yields.
With no-till, bulk density was 1.21 grams per centimeter at 0 to 2 inches deep, and 1.30 at a 2- to 4-inch depth. The section that underwent a vertical-tillage pass measured 1.13 and 1.29, respectively.
The mean weight diameter of soil aggregates was 1.62 with no-till and 1.44 with vertical tillage. Infiltration was 44.0 (1.8 inches per hour) for no-till and 21.4 (0.85 inches) for vertical tillage. Those numbers were more significant.
“This field had beautiful soil properties to begin with,” Presley says. “For bulk density, you want a less-dense soil, but for a…
To view the content, please subscribe or login.
 Premium content is for our Digital-only and Premium subscribers. A Print-only subscription doesn't qualify. Please purchase/upgrade a subscription with the Digital product to get access to all No-Till Farmer content and archives online. Learn more about the different versions and what is included.

John dobberstein2

John Dobberstein

John Dobberstein is senior editor of No-Till Farmer magazine and the e-newsletter Dryland No-TillerHe previously covered agriculture for the Tulsa World and worked for daily newspapers in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Joseph, Mich. He graduated with a B.A. in journalism and political science from Central Michigan University.

Top Articles

Current Issue


No-Till Farmer

Get full access NOW to the most comprehensive, powerful and easy-to-use online resource for no-tillage practices. Just one good idea will pay for your subscription hundreds of times over.

Subscribe Now

View More

Must Read Free Eguides

Download these helpful knowledge building tools

View More
Top Directory Listings