According to Paul Jasa, Extension agricultural engineer at the University of Nebraska, no-tillers can minimize soil disturbance with existing application equipment. The key is setting the machine correctly and having the right coulters and shanks in place to do the job.
“The application equipment we use at the University of Nebraska has a 20-inch coulter in front of rigid shanks,” Jasa explains. “The key is the large-diameter coulter that runs just as deep as the knives.
“The coulter cuts the soil and the knife slides right through the slot. We can operate the anhydrous applicator in wheat or soybean residue. After a rain, you can hardly tell that we’ve been in the field.”
Jasa says without that large coulter in front, the shanks are working harder and deeper, a no-no for no-tillers.
“Coil shanks are designed to vibrate and shake loose residue,” he says. “That little bit of shaking is too much for no-tillers because that vibration is what can disturb the soil.
“No-tillers want a shank that’s as rigid as possible. Working with the coulters, it can slice right through the soil and deliver nitrogen with less soil disturbance.
The University of Nebraska applicator now has 20-inch coulters, but Jasa may replace them with 24-inch coulters.
“Having a larger coulter would cut the soil deeper than the shank and reduce soil disturbance even more,” he says.
And Jasa says the less soil disturbance that occurs, the more you save on fuel.
He says the Exactrix system delivers nitrogen with minimal soil disturbance. A dedicated delivery system that works with existing no-till equipment, it uses current equipment as an applicator.
“It delivers liquid under pressure, getting nitrogen into the soil without the tillage of an anhydrous knife,” he says.
While the cost of anhydrous has increased, Jasa says it remains relatively cheap compared to the price of corn.
“The nitrogen in anhydrous remains at roughly a 10:1 ratio to the price of corn, which is about the same as it’s been for many years,” Jasa says. “It remains important to ensure proper placement for no-tillers to maximize your investment.”