Don’t Separate Nitrogen And Tillage

It pays to remember that different tillage systems affect nitrogen in different ways.

You can't talk about nitrogen management without talking about tillage management. And separating nitrogen management from management of no-till and other tillage systems can be dangerous, according to Alan Sundermeier, an Ohio State University extension educator.

Sundermeier has looked at the connection between nitrogen and tillage management. To evaluate each tillage system, he first looked at each with no added nitrogen, allowing him to determine how each system can stabilize nitrogen and organic matter, or, conversely, destroy organic matter and release nitrogen.


To test strip-tilling, Sundermeier adapted a 6-row toolbar. The set-up would typically be used after soybean harvest to do fall strip-tilling, using mole knives to lift and explode the soil.

“It did a good job of not exploding the soil between the rows,” he says. “If you go too deep, try to subsoil with the strip tiller, as you’re going to have a lot of soil you’re moving and it won’t stay within that 6-inch-wide area.

“We were trying to go slow and shallow enough to keep these middles clod-free. Mound it up; keep it in that 6- to 9-inch-wide planting zone and it’ll settle back in there by spring,” he says.


Sundermeier also tried the Aerway system with the intent of working as little soil as possible. “You can run it straight or cocked a little, the more angle the more rolling of the machine, the more incorporation you’ll get,” he says.

Sundermeier set the Aerway in his trial to preserve as much of the…

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