Isn't Vertical Tillage Still Tillage?

For a variety of reasons, many passionate no-tillers share why they feel these tools don’t have a place on their undisturbed soils.

Many no-tillers contacted by Conservation Tillage Guide say they don’t believe vertical-tillage practices are — in most situations or all of them — necessary or beneficial.

Some don’t feel no-tilled soils should be disturbed because of what could occur to soil structure, earthworms or microbial activity.

Others worry it could worsen erosion or over-process residue, or believe better planters or cover crops could get similar results.

Below you will find several responses from these no-tillers to our survey.

It’s Still Tillage

On the topic of vertical tillage I feel it’s not necessary. It might be a transition tool, but it’s still tillage. The less soil disturbance there is, the better on our soils.

Those that can spend $40,000 on one of these machines should spend it on a bigger drill and plant a cover crop.

I owned a Phoenix harrow and an AerWay and sold them both, and I’m never looking back. They find the rocks I forgot that I had.

— Lucas Criswell, Lewisburg, Pa., no-tiller

Keep Residue, Soil And Water At Home

I see absolutely no use for any of the vertical-tillage tools I’ve seen at machinery shows or in advertisements.

They only increase investment and operating costs, and I see them only as a way for someone who feels that he must do something and isn’t quite ready to go full no-till.

If it’s a bit dry, they will only cause moisture loss and maybe chop up the residue a bit, only to watch it blow away…

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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.

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