Before Harvest, Assess Your No-Till Management

Check stands, ear fill, residue levels and more to determine whether you hit a home run or could use improvements heading into the next cropping season.

With harvest just around the corner, there are a few things in fields you may want to evaluate. It’s a good idea before harvest to assess your no-till management decisions from the past year. The alternative is to take time during harvest, but generally many of us are too busy to do that.

Stand Evaluation And Ear Fill

Take a final stand count, look at stand uniformity, see how many corn plants actually have ears and look at ear uniformity.

If stands and uniformity aren’t up to expectations, you’ll know what to keep a close eye on from the combine. Plus, you can take time to think about changes you’ll need to make to your no-till planting and fertilizing program next year.

Residue Levels

Before harvesting soybeans, look at the level of corn residue remaining from previous years.

This will help you assess how well you’ve managed residue. Some ways of managing residue in corn and soybeans you should consider include:

  1. Spreading material evenly and along the entire width of the combine.
  2. Using aggressive rolls, usually with knives, for no-till.
  3. Harvesting only as low as necessary to capture all ears, but as high as possible to leave stalks standing to reduce ground cover. Consider the header’s pitch.
  4. Ensuring a residue-free seedbed with row cleaners, planting between crowns for good residue flow and making sure gauge wheels are running between rows to minimize planter bounce. Reducing planter bounce improves seed placement depth and spacing.
  5. Making sure fertilizer has been applied uniformly…
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Jim Leverich

Jim Leverich no-tills near Sparta, Wis., and serves as an onfarm research coordinator for the University of Wisconsin.

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