IMPROVE NO-TILL SOILS. Sjoerd Duiker, shown here in the trench at a field day in Dauphin County, Pa., says no-tillers need to improve their soils so that they store water, allow vigorous root development, recycle nutrients and contain a well-balanced ecosystem.

Your No-Till Soils Could Stand Some Improvement

Penn State soil scientist says there are several things you should do to make your no-till soils perform even better.

Just because you are no-tilling, it doesn’t mean that you are doing the best you can for the soil structure of the land that you farm, Sjoerd Duiker says.

“We can have a no-till system that is very poor,” says the Penn State University soil scientist. “For example, when harvesting corn silage, we don’t return any residue to the soil. With pure alfalfa stands, we’ve noticed that toward the end when stands thin out, we see hard soil conditions and high levels of runoff.

“The challenge is how we design a high-quality no-till system.”

While no-till has long been promoted as a tool for controlling soil erosion, Duiker says it’s time for farmers to move beyond the fact they are simply no-tilling the land. They need to make an effort to improve their no-till system to achieve soils that:

  • Are highly productive.

  • Soak in and store water.

  • Release water to plants.

  • Allow vigorous root development.

  • Store nutrients and release them when needed.

  • Recycle nutrients.

  • Are well aerated.

  • Contain a well-balanced ecosystem.

  • Improve over time.

Soil Type Keys Erosion. Duiker says the old measuring stick for a successful no-till program was that 30% residue cover after planting was enough to reduce soil erosion.

However, Penn State studies have shown that the big difference in soil loss and runoff between no-till and reduced-tillage systems, like chisel plowing, doesn’t occur immediately after tillage, but rather after canopy closure and, in the case of the Penn State studies, silage harvest.

“Soil types also determine…

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.

Bruggink darrell

Darrell Bruggink

Executive Editor/Publisher

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