Residue Management Key To No-Till Yields

Ongoing research at the University of Wisconsin has given us insight on differences between chisel plow, strip-till and no-till. Dick Wolkowski of the Department of Soil Science has researched these conservation-tillage systems for more than 10 years.

Tom Cox of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Wolkowski and I did a thorough production and economic study of this research. We’ll discuss production insights this month and economic insights next month.

In comparing fall chisel plow, fall strip-till and no-till in either continuous corn or corn-soybean rotations, the no-till planter system used did not have row cleaners or coulters. Thus, residue may have reduced the performance of the no-till system.

The trial started on a field that had never seen no-till, so it was not in no-till equilibrium to start with. Some would argue this is not a fair comparison for no-till, but the study shows a worst-case scenario for no-till.

Manage Residue.

Results show that as residue increases, the variation in no-till corn yields increase. This may explain why residue management is so important and how it’s certainly one of the keys for attaining good stands and high yields in no-till corn.

In continuous corn, chisel-plow corn yields were about 15 bushels per acre higher than no-till and 8 bushels higher than strip-till. However, in corn-after-soybean chisel plow, corn yields were about equal with strip-till and 9 bushels per acre higher than no-till.

While data may suggest chisel is superior, a closer look indicates residue management can help overcome…

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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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