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I’ve been no-tilling for 10 years on very well-drained farms in northwestern Ohio. For the last couple of seasons, beans that were grown between 13-year-old drainage tile lines have suffered on some of the higher ground even though the fertility is good with a 6.4 to 6.7 pH.
The beans over the tile lines look good, but I can see every tile line on the farm. What can I do to push up no-till soybean yields between the tile lines?
In a wet spring, a neighbor had to replant corn because the crop died between the tile lines situated on 40-foot centers. With our old glacial till soils, you need 25-foot tile centers for a crop to survive in extremely wet years.
You might have a good tile man or a Soil and Water Conservation District technician spend a few hours looking at what it would cost to add more tile in the center areas.
I’ve estimated gains as high as 80 bushels of corn, 50 bushels of wheat and 30 bushels of soybeans with tile that fully drains excess water from the soil in wet years.
Another trick is to lime your soil to 70 to 80 percent calcium saturation while keeping magnesium levels around 15 percent saturation for maximum soil, air and water movement.
Many no-tillers apply 1 ton per acre of gypsum every other year to keep the soil pores open. They avoid broadcasting potash, which closes the soil pores.