"If you want to double the size of your farm, farm vertically,” says Ray Rawson. The developer of several pieces of zone tillage equipment and a no-till corn and soybean producer from Farwell, Mich., for many years has taken the time to look beneath the soil surface. The result has been higher yields on his own and and many other farms.
He’s done this by developing a zone-till system that blends the best of no-till and conventional tillage. It is used in combination with a deep zone-tillage system that uses a tool that opens a slot allowing air, water and roots to reach deep into the soil.
With the deep slot tool, Rawson prefers using a straight leg with a narrow point at the bottom to go down deep and take out the natural soil pan. The use of this tool has also shown him the advantages of getting oxygen and water deep into the soil.
“By doing this, we’re driving micro-life deeper into the soil and we begin to see changes in the way that soybeans nodulate, nitrification gets deeper and so on,” he says.
As soybean roots grow through the soil profile, the ends of the roots need to continually grow. “You do not want them to just hit the natural pan and let the roots grow horizontally along it,” he says. “This can create problems, especially if it is extremely dry and no irrigation water is available. The pan prevents…