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No-Till Corn Right Back Into The Old Corn Row

Illinois consultant designs coulter-and-row-cleaner setup to no-till corn into the previous year’s corn stalks and root balls.

While many farmers desire to move toward a no-till system, the recent increase in continuous corn appears to put the two practices at odds.

Dense levels of slow-to-breakdown corn residue have challenged no-tillers and no-till attachment manufacturers seeking ways to move residue with the planter as the first pass after harvest.

Brian Freed, a consultant and owner of Ag Focus in Lexington, Ill., is zeroing in on a residue-management setup he thinks will allow no-tillers to plant continuous corn directly into the old rows.

“My bias comes from my experience working with various growers who are finding that one of the best models for profitability is continuous corn,” Freed says. “And it’s my desire to see continuous corn practiced without any tillage prior to planting.”

In-Row Placement.

A past National No-Tillage Conference speaker, Freed says the ideal location for placing seed in continuous corn is back in the old row location

“That’s where your highest population of mycorrhizal fungi are present and that fungi is what brings the nutrients from the soil to the plants,” Freed says. “It’s the loosest soil in the row area because there is less traffic on that row.

“The key becomes if you can get the stalks and the root stubs out of the way without plugging up the row unit. If you can do that, you’ll find the soils in that old corn-row location are almost like garden-soil conditions.”

Many no-tillers planting continuous corn split the row middles with seeding location, particularly if they…

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Darrell Bruggink

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