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

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

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