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Tillage advice


Farmer in training
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So on our farm we have what I would call light soil and even sandy on top of the knolls. My dad is very old school and is going to moldboard plow until he's ready to pass the torch. We have suffered a few spots where erosion is getting bad because the plow loosens the soil up too much and with the soil type we have in a majority of the the land, it very readily makes gullies after heavy rains especially a couple years ago when we had record rainfall in SE MN. We currently have 2wd 52 and 5488s for our tillage tractors. I'm thinking I would continue chisel plowing the bean ground so the corn crop the next year can grow deep roots quickly. But I am wondering opinions on a coulter style strip till set up or if they make a high speed vertical tillage disc that I could run with them tractors. I would not be installing fertilizer with the strip till bar, I would use it to clean the rows. I have heard that rocks are hard on the high speed discs and we definitely have them, so if that's true that would likely be out. I would use this tillage tool in corn stalks and planting soybeans the following season. 

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I see a lot of guys using degleman pro-till disks or disks similar to those by other manufacturers. They seem to do a good job and most guys use them as a one pass and plant machine. They must take horsepower because they all pull them with big four wheel drives so I don't know if a 52 or 54 could do the job.

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If it was affordable I would use a strip till with narrow shanks behind the coulter's. Deep placing fertilizer of the back side of the shanks, deep probe soil tests usually show lack of nutrients deep in the soil profile. Studies have shown that tillage adds oxygen and breaks down corn stalks, and you'll never gain any organic matter in your soil, don't disturb your harvested crop roots, corn and wheat decaying roots are the key to building OM. Soys have much less so I would never till soy stubble.

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You'll be limited to 15' equipment if you want one of those types of disk's without fwa. They pull hard and can't get the power of a 5488 to the ground with 2wd. We have ground we always fall plowed back in the day that wouldn't work now. Just get these gully washer rains anymore. Here if there's a place that has washed a little in the past I raise the chisel completely out of the ground when I get close to it, drive though the spot that might wash, and drop it back in the ground. Makes a big difference.

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1 hour ago, Michigan No Till said:

If it was affordable I would use a strip till with narrow shanks behind the coulter's. Deep placing fertilizer of the back side of the shanks, deep probe soil tests usually show lack of nutrients deep in the soil profile. Studies have shown that tillage adds oxygen and breaks down corn stalks, and you'll never gain any organic matter in your soil, don't disturb your harvested crop roots, corn and wheat decaying roots are the key to building OM. Soys have much less so I would never till soy stubble.

Yes affordability is a huge factor. Not only the expense of the implement but a tractor to pull it. I haven't seen a set up like that scaled down 1/2 but I have seen six row strip till bars. I think they're also referred to as row fresheners. I have also heard that you can lose some of that fertilizer through leaching when the snow melts if you knife it in like that. And I wouldn't want to knife that in, in the spring and then plant over it right away before it has a chance to settle. The idea behind chisel plowing the bean ground is more about getting deep tillage every other year if I go to some sort of min till in the corn stalks. I know it's not as efficient but my dad spreads his fertilizer and tills it in which seams to work fine for now

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26 minutes ago, 856 Custom said:

You'll be limited to 15' equipment if you want one of those types of disk's without fwa. They pull hard and can't get the power of a 5488 to the ground with 2wd. We have ground we always fall plowed back in the day that wouldn't work now. Just get these gully washer rains anymore. Here if there's a place that has washed a little in the past I raise the chisel completely out of the ground when I get close to it, drive though the spot that might wash, and drop it back in the ground. Makes a big difference.

Right. Yea they don't make this fancy new equipment for smaller tractors. I'm not gonna hire it done because I might as well not even farm it then. 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 11/3/2021 at 6:08 AM, 856 Custom said:

You'll be limited to 15' equipment if you want one of those types of disk's without fwa. They pull hard and can't get the power of a 5488 to the ground with 2wd. We have ground we always fall plowed back in the day that wouldn't work now. Just get these gully washer rains anymore. Here if there's a place that has washed a little in the past I raise the chisel completely out of the ground when I get close to it, drive though the spot that might wash, and drop it back in the ground. Makes a big difference.

I was looking at tractor house a little bit ago and saw a 14' Landoll and a 10' Great Plains vertical tillage discs. I didn't even know they made them that small. Could a guy pull that with 2wd?

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13 minutes ago, Lars (midessa) said:

If you have washouts, or gullies, you should leave that area undisturbed and let the grass grow. Don’t spray it either. Best during the summer to mow the grass if possible.

Yes that's what we've been doing. I'm looking for a different tillage method. We have overall light soil on our farm and I feel like the mold board plowing is destroying the top soil. I know it is in some areas. 

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No till it. Sounds like your ground is perfect for it. 

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1 minute ago, ChrisNY said:

No till it. Sounds like your ground is perfect for it. 

We have trouble with getting the ground temp up with no till up in the frozen tundra. Otherwise I'd try it. I thought strip till would help with that problem. Is vertical tillage no good?

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All the bigger farms have them around me. I plant cover crop and seed down ground for one of them and my opinion is it’s a disk…. We where told 20 years ago or more that disks where evil and now this disk is “amazing 😳”. It does do a nice job on the top 2” of soil which it’s supposed to do but if you try to push a rod down through it to see where the compaction layer is, it’s pretty hard 2” down. In your light soil you may be ok I don’t know but I think we will see issues with these in 5-10 years and the farmer will be told to buy another reinvented wheel that is amazing. If I where in you place I would look at a minimum till to no till and invest in one of those weed zappers. Nothing ever with be resident to electricity.  
 

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41 minutes ago, Farmer in training said:

We have trouble with getting the ground temp up with no till up in the frozen tundra. Otherwise I'd try it. I thought strip till would help with that problem. Is vertical tillage no good?

Doubt you are colder than here. Do some soil temperature tests in spring. You might be surprised. 
Sure strip till is better because of nutrient placement, however does the extra cost of equipment, maintenance, etc offset the loss of yield. Don’t confuse yield vs profitability. 
Start small, take field and try it for 3-4 years. Track costs and track yield. 
Just make sure your planter is setup for notill. 
If you have to do tillage, a good field cultivator with a double basket harrow like a Unverferth or JM behind. 15-20% angle, each way for 2 passes, last pass direction you will plant. Leave the disk parked. 

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36 minutes ago, Farmer in training said:

We have trouble with getting the ground temp up with no till up in the frozen tundra. Otherwise I'd try it. I thought strip till would help with that problem. Is vertical tillage no good?

My brother bought a Great Plains Turbo Max about 3 years ago, we can have the same problem with cold soils in the spring. He runs it on irrigated soybean stubble a couple inches deep in the fall to incorporate some of the residue, it has an adjustable front gang so you can set it to cover as much as you want but even at max angle you can still see the bean rows. The ground warms up much faster where it has been  used and gets a much better more even stand of corn,he just did some for me today. It also works good in the spring where we haul manure over the winter and as finish tool after disking corn stalks, I would not recommend using it on standing corn stalks in the fall though, I think the fencerow would be buried with trash.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Farmer in training said:

We have trouble with getting the ground temp up with no till up in the frozen tundra. Otherwise I'd try it. I thought strip till would help with that problem. Is vertical tillage no good?

Not suggesting you don't know what your talking about, but to be that guy I will challenge that.  Reason I say this is I was told the same things by people in the area without doing some homework myself.  I wanted to switch to no till for a time, cost, and soil health stand point.  I started taking soil temps and seen zero difference between a field that I had worked or left alone.  I started playing with cover crops and having 80# of cereal rye no tilled in early to mid November only made a degree or so difference come spring.  Around 3rd to 4th week in May my hay ground would start trailing everything else by about 5 degrees but its irrelevant to getting the grain crops in.

 

I also noticed my soil held moisture better and stayed moist better in dry spells like this year.  Again, I was preached to by someone else that the rye would pull all the moisture out...doing it first hand I found that to be not the case.  

 

   

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No matter what tillage you do, it creates a hard pan at that level. Here we have sandy soil as well and I have tried to keep it no till except for some strip till and after 19 and 20s record rainfall we had to do some tillage to handle cattails. I dont do all strip till, but on years when fertilizer is affordable I like it to increase p and k below the surface as they hardly move from the top. My dad would plow every acre as well, but for last 20 years they have been parked. I have taken ground that he had trouble with wet spots and weed pressure where he would be lucky to get into triple digit yields and using no till raised the yield on corn to double. Less ground disturbance slows weed germination. Adding a nitrogen stabilizer will help with spring leaching as well. Emerging corn on a black field is nice to look at, but seeing it come up thru residue and it stays clean is just so beautiful. And that tillage just costs money every trip. I'd recommend trying it on one field, search internet for info and realize that it's a learning process that takes years to perfect. Research Dakota Lakes Research farm in pierre, sd. Remember, you dont harvest your crops in June! No till may be a tad behind in June, but by harvest you cant tell a difference. Good luck!

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27 minutes ago, 1958560 said:

No matter what tillage you do, it creates a hard pan at that level. Here we have sandy soil as well and I have tried to keep it no till except for some strip till and after 19 and 20s record rainfall we had to do some tillage to handle cattails. I dont do all strip till, but on years when fertilizer is affordable I like it to increase p and k below the surface as they hardly move from the top. My dad would plow every acre as well, but for last 20 years they have been parked. I have taken ground that he had trouble with wet spots and weed pressure where he would be lucky to get into triple digit yields and using no till raised the yield on corn to double. Less ground disturbance slows weed germination. Adding a nitrogen stabilizer will help with spring leaching as well. Emerging corn on a black field is nice to look at, but seeing it come up thru residue and it stays clean is just so beautiful. And that tillage just costs money every trip. I'd recommend trying it on one field, search internet for info and realize that it's a learning process that takes years to perfect. Research Dakota Lakes Research farm in pierre, sd. Remember, you dont harvest your crops in June! No till may be a tad behind in June, but by harvest you cant tell a difference. Good luck!

So I've heard after a few years of no till that you start losing some of the nutrients from residue because it breaks down in the top couple inches opposed to down deeper where it is more effective. Have you found that also, and if so how do you combat that? Also how does no till effect drainage in light/sandy soils. The big thing to do in my area is to rip for the most part but do you really get deep compaction in sandy soils?

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1 hour ago, toyboy said:

Not suggesting you don't know what your talking about, but to be that guy I will challenge that.  Reason I say this is I was told the same things by people in the area without doing some homework myself.  I wanted to switch to no till for a time, cost, and soil health stand point.  I started taking soil temps and seen zero difference between a field that I had worked or left alone.  I started playing with cover crops and having 80# of cereal rye no tilled in early to mid November only made a degree or so difference come spring.  Around 3rd to 4th week in May my hay ground would start trailing everything else by about 5 degrees but its irrelevant to getting the grain crops in.

 

I also noticed my soil held moisture better and stayed moist better in dry spells like this year.  Again, I was preached to by someone else that the rye would pull all the moisture out...doing it first hand I found that to be not the case.  

 

   

GOPR0198.JPG

GOPR0202.JPG

GOPR0157.JPG

GOPR0158.JPG

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It's hard for me to believe that a trash covered field warms up as fast as a worked field especially since guys that  I've talked to that no till in my area say they have to plant a little later because of it, but I'll look into it. Thanks for your input

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