As Ron Kile began to study how no-till would fit into his farming operation, he had one lingering concern: residue management.
“It was apparent that I needed to manage my wheat straw stubble so my seeder would work properly,” Kile says. “The success of my no-till depended on my seeding rig being able to work through the wheat residue.”
Kile crops 1,000 acres of wheat, barley and pulse crops near Rosalia, Wash. He’s been a no-tiller since 2000, direct seeding his crops with a Concord drill. He uses openers that he designed and manufactures.
“I’ve been using the openers for about 3 years now, and they work very well,” he says.
Kile first became interested in no-till in 1998, but remained concerned about the residue issues. The rolling hills in the Palouse region in southwestern Washington call for specially equipped combines that can raise and lower the entire machine to remain level on the undulating land. The special demands on man and machine can create obstacles for no-tillers.
Kile raises his combine header to a height of about 15 inches in order to cut the heads of the wheat and not run the extra straw through his combine. With wheat averaging 20 to 22 inches in height, that leaves a lot of stubble. Traditional methods of handling the long wheat straw would be flail chopping, cross harrowing or cutting the wheat lower to the ground and running extra material through the combine.
“It seemed impractical to me to…