Jump to content

Tillage advice


Farmer in training
 Share

Recommended Posts

Tillage will help release nutrients in the residue quicker but is not a long term solution for soil health. The residue on the surface is minor compared to the root biomass below the surface. That is really what is benefit of notill. As your organic matter increases, the fertility that it releases is substantial as it breaks down during the season. The surface residue helps to cover the soil to keep in season temps lower and to keep moisture from evaporating, which promotes soil biological activity. Earthworms and microbes help turn organic matter into nutrients faster. I forget all the numbers, but for nitrogen, each % of organic matter as it breaks down releases 20 to 40 lbs of nitrogen for the plant to use. All I can say is that I fertilize for crop removal or less and have been getting very good yields. My fertilizer gal doesn't like my recs compared to hers, lol. Farming today is much more than turning soil, planting seed and hoping for the best. Not sure what part of MN you are in, but I would recommend attending a soil fertility clinic put on by the Hefty Seed Co. Learning how to read a soil test is very helpful. Funny how the coop that is selling you fertilizer doesn't explain that! The key is to never stop learning and ask a lot of questions. Just because Dad and Grandpa did it this way for 50 years doesn't make it right. Dr Beck at Dakota lakes has sandy ground and has been notill for many years. I have heard that his soil can absorb 8"+ of moisture in an hour without running off. You mentioned erosion, so you can understand this. Even deep ripping creates a pan, just deeper than shallow plow pans.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

56 minutes ago, 1958560 said:

No till may be a tad behind in June, but by harvest you cant tell a difference.

This is what I have seen here. Those beautiful corn stands in black dirt after tillage look great early on, but in the end there isn’t a difference. I don’t know everyone’s ground, and don’t claim to and I have heard all the reasons it won’t work. All I can say is I don’t know anyone who tried it here and gave up on it. There really isn’t any tillage left here. Every few years the latest and greatest tillage tool shows up here, is used heavily and then never seen again. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 minutes ago, 1958560 said:

Tillage will help release nutrients in the residue quicker but is not a long term solution for soil health. The residue on the surface is minor compared to the root biomass below the surface. That is really what is benefit of notill. As your organic matter increases, the fertility that it releases is substantial as it breaks down during the season. The surface residue helps to cover the soil to keep in season temps lower and to keep moisture from evaporating, which promotes soil biological activity. Earthworms and microbes help turn organic matter into nutrients faster. I forget all the numbers, but for nitrogen, each % of organic matter as it breaks down releases 20 to 40 lbs of nitrogen for the plant to use. All I can say is that I fertilize for crop removal or less and have been getting very good yields. My fertilizer gal doesn't like my recs compared to hers, lol. Farming today is much more than turning soil, planting seed and hoping for the best. Not sure what part of MN you are in, but I would recommend attending a soil fertility clinic put on by the Hefty Seed Co. Learning how to read a soil test is very helpful. Funny how the coop that is selling you fertilizer doesn't explain that! The key is to never stop learning and ask a lot of questions. Just because Dad and Grandpa did it this way for 50 years doesn't make it right. Dr Beck at Dakota lakes has sandy ground and has been notill for many years. I have heard that his soil can absorb 8"+ of moisture in an hour without running off. You mentioned erosion, so you can understand this. Even deep ripping creates a pan, just deeper than shallow plow pans.

Yes soil health is a huge concern. Sounds like maybe money will be best  spent on a good no till planter than tillage equipment. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Farmer in training said:

Yes soil health is a huge concern. Sounds like maybe money will be best  spent on a good no till planter than tillage equipment. 

I started with a 6 row 7000 in the early 2000s because it was affordable and dad wouldn't switch to 30s from 38s. It was too light, I'd fill liquid tanks to help but in hard ground there wasn't enough pressure on drive wheels and population would suffer. Then went to a 12 row white 6100 that worked well, just didnt like vertical fold. Next was 8100 white 16 row front fold and finally now to a 1250 caseih 16 front fold. I added precision planting equipment to it, but it did the job without as well. Take your time and look, there are good ones out there. Just remember to dig, dig, dig behind the planter. Loose soil will make nearly any planter look good. Check seed depth and make sure seed trench is closed well, although sandy soils are more forgiving in that respect. Heavy, clay types, especially when you should wait a week are the toughest to close

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Toyboy is spot on. Everyone will tell you that worked ground warms up faster, but we have not found that. done side by side tests and have seen no difference in temps. Improving soil health and soil structure will fix a lot of problems. Plant a cover crop mix in the fall will help speed up the healing process. Water infiltration will improve, soil tilth will improve, soil structure will improve.

Yes you may be sitting for a few days in the spring while neighbors are turning dirt, that is hard part for me. Go fishing or something for a couple days and relax while your neighbors are burning fuel and when it is fit start planting. You will be done before them. As others said, you will go through a period of a couple weeks that you think your corn does not look as good as the neighbors but in the end it will yield just as good.

We switched probably 13-14 years ago from full tillage to no-till, a lot of trial and error, ridicule from neighbors(some of which are now switching themselves) but in the end it works, soil health has improved drastically, compaction is pretty much gone, crops survive drought conditions where neighboring fields are curled, water drains faster and ground dries quicker. Is more forgiving in these climate changes of more extreme weather systems. 

you don't need to buy every attachment on the market and every snake oil out there. We put new openers on planter every year, Thompson spiked closing wheels with drag chains behind, apply 10-34-0 through the Keetons and 32% out the back through Totally Tubular tubes in front of drag chains. Keep it simple.

Like I said try it on small scale and form your own opinions. Lots of misinformation out there

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

19 hours ago, ChrisNY said:

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. 

I agree 100% that you need to gain enough yield to offset the cost of equipment, however in our experience strip till corn has yielded much better than no till corn.  My Dad started no-tilling in the 80's with an 800 planter with Yetter trash whippers and coulters.  Later we started strip tilling and have seen a sizeable yield bump to justify it.

Farmer in training you mentioned originally chisel plowing soybean stubble.  I personally would not go that route.  If you have light soil I would be very concerned about wind erosion throughout the winter.  I've seen many fields where there aren't just snow drifts in the ditches surrounding a field but alot of soil deposited there too from wind erosion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

23 minutes ago, IH Forever said:

I agree 100% that you need to gain enough yield to offset the cost of equipment, however in our experience strip till corn has yielded much better than no till corn.  My Dad started no-tilling in the 80's with an 800 planter with Yetter trash whippers and coulters.  Later we started strip tilling and have seen a sizeable yield bump to justify it.

Farmer in training you mentioned originally chisel plowing soybean stubble.  I personally would not go that route.  If you have light soil I would be very concerned about wind erosion throughout the winter.  I've seen many fields where there aren't just snow drifts in the ditches surrounding a field but alot of soil deposited there too from wind erision.

Oh no it's not near that bad where wind is blowing soil around. I just think that it's too light to be mold board plowing. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, IH Forever said:

I agree 100% that you need to gain enough yield to offset the cost of equipment, however in our experience strip till corn has yielded much better than no till corn.  My Dad started no-tilling in the 80's with an 800 planter with Yetter trash whippers and coulters.  Later we started strip tilling and have seen a sizeable yield bump to justify it.

Farmer in training you mentioned originally chisel plowing soybean stubble.  I personally would not go that route.  If you have light soil I would be very concerned about wind erosion throughout the winter.  I've seen many fields where there aren't just snow drifts in the ditches surrounding a field but alot of soil deposited there too from wind erision.

I think that is very possible, we have never tried strip till so really don't know. We are getting comparable yields as conventional till and do not have the labor or equipment to try strip till. A couple guys around here are experimenting with it but is slow to catch on it seems. I think it is a good practice with lots of benefits.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

19 hours ago, 1958560 said:

Tillage will help release nutrients in the residue quicker but is not a long term solution for soil health. The residue on the surface is minor compared to the root biomass below the surface. That is really what is benefit of notill. As your organic matter increases, the fertility that it releases is substantial as it breaks down during the season. The surface residue helps to cover the soil to keep in season temps lower and to keep moisture from evaporating, which promotes soil biological activity. Earthworms and microbes help turn organic matter into nutrients faster. I forget all the numbers, but for nitrogen, each % of organic matter as it breaks down releases 20 to 40 lbs of nitrogen for the plant to use. All I can say is that I fertilize for crop removal or less and have been getting very good yields. My fertilizer gal doesn't like my recs compared to hers, lol. Farming today is much more than turning soil, planting seed and hoping for the best. Not sure what part of MN you are in, but I would recommend attending a soil fertility clinic put on by the Hefty Seed Co. Learning how to read a soil test is very helpful. Funny how the coop that is selling you fertilizer doesn't explain that! The key is to never stop learning and ask a lot of questions. Just because Dad and Grandpa did it this way for 50 years doesn't make it right. Dr Beck at Dakota lakes has sandy ground and has been notill for many years. I have heard that his soil can absorb 8"+ of moisture in an hour without running off. You mentioned erosion, so you can understand this. Even deep ripping creates a pan, just deeper than shallow plow pans.

How do you apply nitrogen and other fertilizers effectively in no till without knifing or working it in?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

19 hours ago, Farmer in training said:

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

Ask a question and you get all kinds of answers to questions you didn't even ask 🤣

 

The first step I took was from a chisel plow to a foo foo disc.  I am fortunate enough a neighbor has a 15ft Kuhn that he lets me use it, which I still borrow it here and there even after going no till.  I had some ditching done this spring and did the best I could with the spoil piles but I still ended up running over a few fields with the chisel plow this fall.  

If the soil temperature is a concern for you and you are considering a no till practice let a couple acres sit.  Grab some temperatures come spring and compare to what you have plowed/chisel plowed. Couple acres wouldn't hurt anything and then you have some first hand data to help make a decision.   If it is that bad there has to be a neighbor with something willing to run over a few acres of stalks and make it black if you don't have something. 

I experimented on a couple acres with corn for whatever reason, I don't remember why, but I did absolutely nothing different with the planter and went for it.  It grew and did fine which set the fire under me to try all this stuff.  Different story now as I added down pressure springs, weight bracket, closing wheels and row cleaners.  

 

YouTube university is great too, people are passionate about what they are sharing or teaching.

 

Something to chew on, I think this guy is from MN. 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, toyboy said:

Ask a question and you get all kinds of answers to questions you didn't even ask 🤣

 

The first step I took was from a chisel plow to a foo foo disc.  I am fortunate enough a neighbor has a 15ft Kuhn that he lets me use it, which I still borrow it here and there even after going no till.  I had some ditching done this spring and did the best I could with the spoil piles but I still ended up running over a few fields with the chisel plow this fall.  

If the soil temperature is a concern for you and you are considering a no till practice let a couple acres sit.  Grab some temperatures come spring and compare to what you have plowed/chisel plowed. Couple acres wouldn't hurt anything and then you have some first hand data to help make a decision.   If it is that bad there has to be a neighbor with something willing to run over a few acres of stalks and make it black if you don't have something. 

I experimented on a couple acres with corn for whatever reason, I don't remember why, but I did absolutely nothing different with the planter and went for it.  It grew and did fine which set the fire under me to try all this stuff.  Different story now as I added down pressure springs, weight bracket, closing wheels and row cleaners.  

 

YouTube university is great too, people are passionate about what they are sharing or teaching.

 

Something to chew on, I think this guy is from MN. 

 

 

 

 

 

Right. So I worked for a drainage company for 18 years, and we would do service calls where we'd haul a mini excavator to the field and diagnose or fix drainage problems right then and there.Now, I came across a couple no till farmers who called in thinking there was something wrong with their tile that they installed a few years before and the conclusion I came to was that drainage was being affected negatively from no till farming. And it wasn't in heavy clay either. That experience definitely has had an influence on my opinion of no till. However, I think our sandy soil would drain better than his did. That's also a reason why I thought I may not go 100% into it, I might just try no till planting the beans first. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Farmer in training said:

How do you apply nitrogen and other fertilizers effectively in no till without knifing or working it in?

Apply early in spring after frost is out and I add a nitrogen stabilizer. Only takes 1/4 to 1/2" rain to incorporate it. P and K applied either spring or fall, same way. Whenever you choose, do it every year and previous years' fert will work it's way down. If you're renting it's not best scenario, but if you own ground it's an investment to the future. 11-52-00 is only fractionally available first year anyway. I put 3 to 5 gallons of a 6-24-6 starter that is supposed to be nearly all available. Some guys put all fert down with planter on a 2x2 system or after closing wheels

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...