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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 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…