No-Till Notes: Is Your Corn Header Handling No-Till Residue?

Many new technologies are available today for corn headers, but no-tillers must keep their residue management goals in mind.

For many years we’ve had corn heads designed to accommodate only the row spacing you’ve chosen to plant. And these headers may or may not have done the best job handling the stout corn hybrids we have today, which affects the residue situation no-tillers must deal with the following year.

But now, there are many new technologies emerging in the marketplace. The types of headers available include traditional fixed-row headers with standard rolls or chopping rolls; fixed-row headers with disc choppers or rotary choppers under the rolls; and even variable-row headers that actually cut off the stalk and then feed them through the rolls.

A new product from Grain Bags Canada, the MDD-100, is variable row and allows stalks to flex and be moved to rolls on 21-inch spacing, giving you an option to harvest at any row spacing. This new header has a totally different design in that it doesn’t cut off the stalks, but guides them into the stalk rolls. The stalk is still attached to the soil, so it can’t wash away in heavy spring storms.

This design might be a good fit, especially if you’re doing custom work and need to handle different row widths.

But overall, when choosing a new header, no-tillers still need to think about what they want to accomplish with residue. As harvest operations begin this fall, it’s a good time to evaluate your corn header and decide if the technology is working for you, or if it’s time to look for…

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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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