Cleaning A Path For No-Till Success

Technology for row cleaners has evolved, but no-tillers must set them up properly to achieve optimum stands and yields.

Residue management at planting is paramount to no-till success. Moving residue away from planter openers and gauge wheels ensures the planter can place seed in a way that maximizes stand uniformity.

Today’s row-cleaning technology is advanced from the early years of no-till when all we had to move and cut trash was a no-till coulter. There are so many options today that it can be difficult to choose which system to purchase.

The good news is most products work well if they’re adjusted and used properly.

It’s important that row cleaners remove trash from the full path of the planter’s gauge wheels so the wheels run on clean soil and don’t bounce over stalks and crowns. This helps ensure seed is placed at an even depth.

Properly functioning row cleaners also eliminate the bouncing of seed in the seed tube and seed meter, both of which may cause erratic seed spacing and depth.

It’s also important that row cleaners remove trash from the planting zone so row openers don’t push trash into the ground around the seed. This ‘hairpinning’ effect has a negative effect on stands.

The Right Path.

The trick is to keep the row unit running between last year’s rows, not on them. This allows the row cleaner to remove surface trash and provide a clean, level surface for the planter, rather than dragging the row unit through deeply rooted crowns.

Some products will partially remove crowns and roots, but when you dislodge root balls, you’re probably moving…

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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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