Discing Away Your Profits

If you haven't already read it, there was a fascinating article of special interest to no-tillers found in the October issue of Soybean Digest. Entitled “Discing Profits Down,” the article features on-farm test data from Indiana indicating that the more a farmer discs the ground in the fall, the more profit he or she will end up losing.

Based on 10 years of on-farm comparisons, data collected by staffers at Erny’s Fertilizer in Logansport, Ind., shows an average drop in corn yields of 13 bushels per acre when a disc is used for fall tillage. In strips where farmers disced soybean stubble the previous fall, compaction and diseases increased while corn yields dropped. Using the disc again in the spring only made matters worse, says Lance Murrell of Erny’s Fertilizer.

Murrell set up 80 field strips with fertilizer customers. The strips were as wide as one round around the field with the combine, averaging 1 1/2 acres in size. Some 40 strips were laid out in corn stalk stubble while 40 more strips were laid out in soybean stubble, so farmers could see the impact of rotations.

Corn Yields Move Up

Yields ranged from 174 bushels per acre with subsoiling, 171 bushels with the moldboard plow, 168 bushels without any fall tillage, 166 bushels with a disc and chisel plow combination and only 161 bushels per acre with discing.

Soybean Yields

With soybeans, the yield was 57 bushel yields with V-ripping in the fall, 52 bushels with fall discing, 51…

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Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

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