Scout During Harvest To Improve No-Till Benchmarks

Checking no-tilled fields during and after harvest will provide insights into stands, hybrid performance, yield limitations and equipment issues

When it's harvest time, we often get caught up in a flurry of activity. But it’s worth the time for no-tillers — especially after the wet planting season last spring — to see what you can learn by scouting your fields during harvest.

Taking a few minutes every day to do this helps help you assess how well your no-till system is working. It’s especially important with no-till to scout your combine’s performance in terms of saving grain and spreading residue evenly.

While searching for grain losses behind the machine, evaluate how well your head and combine are doing at processing and spreading residue uniformly. With differing conditions, slight adjustments may be needed to maximize performance.

Spread It Out

 A key to high-performing no-till systems is ensuring crop residue is spread evenly.

If residue is thicker in certain areas of the combine pass, you’ll have issues when planting next spring. Residue managers on your planter will struggle to work effectively if crop residue isn’t spread evenly. Plant stands will also suffer.

As you examine residue distribution, also look at final plant stands to assess how the heads are handling different plant populations.

As corn populations increase, you may need to increase the speed of your header relative to ground speed to adequately process residue and move it through the stalk rolls.

This adjustment will lower the amount of residue entering the combine and generally improve overall combine performance.

Eagle Eye

 Also look at populations and population uniformity to assess your…

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Leverich jim

Jim Leverich

No-Till Farmer's Conservation Ag Operator Fellow for 2022, Jim Leverich is a no-till farmer near Sparta, Wis. His 1,000 acre-farm has been in his family since 1864 and no-tilled since 1984. An innovator and educator, Leverich has 35-plus years of no-till and on-farm research experience, and possesses a deep, practical understanding of what makes no-till work. For his contributions while at the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Service, Leverich was named the No-Till Innovator of the Year (Research & Education category) in 2006. A talented presenter and writer, Leverich was a regular guest columnist for No-Till Farmer in 2011 when it earned the Gold Medal as the nation’s top newsletter from the American Society of Business Press Editors.

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