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“Improved drainage may be needed on many soils to obtain the best yields from a no-till system. Yields under no-till are often affected by poor drainage, more so than those under conventional tillage,” according to a study by soil scientists at Ohio State University.
Denny Bell quotes the OSU report and calls it a good reason for no-tillers to consider tiling their fields. Tiling is now so affordable, he says, that it can be compared to more common soil inputs, such as nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous. The return on investment (ROI) is so high that it can be profitable to tile even rented fields.
Bell is a no-tiller in Terre Haute, Ind., and a principal owner of Soil-Max Inc., a company selling a tile plow that can be operated by tractors with as little as 130 horsepower.
Bell said poorly drained soils lack good root depth, leading to crops that don’t handle stress well; lose more of the nitrogen placed on them; slip into anaerobic condition, meaning they hold less air; are prone to compaction problems; hold fewer beneficial soil organisms and often have poor soil structure.
The OSU research, which looked at no-till and conventionally tilled fields, found that tiling reduced erosion by 40 percent, phosphorous loss by 50 percent and potash loss by 30 percent, according to Bell.
Another benefit, he noted, is that tiled, drier soils create a bigger window for no-tilling because growers can get into their fields more often.
“But the biggest effect…