How Fall Tillage Prep Will Affect Your Spring Seed Bed

This video with Scott O’Neill of Corn Capital Innovations will compare 3 different fall tillage scenarios.   All three had corn removed approximately 2 weeks prior to recording.  The field had a Salford RTS, (A vertical tillage tool) run 2 times at 2 opposite directions with a 7 degree angle.  Now, we will compare the final tillage step.

This is what we will look for:

  • Cutting and sizing of residue
  • Where the residue is placed in the soil profile
  • Fracturing of the soils

First Scenario

In this part of the field we used a chisel plow with a 3 bar harrow set at 4”-6”.  Overall the field looks level and will only need a 1 pass in the spring to be ready to plant.  As we dig into the soil, we will find that the vertical tillage along with a chisel plow leaves good structure to the soil as it keeps the residue within the top 1-2” of soil.  This is ideal for a healthy spring seed bed.  As we dig deeper there is little residue and the soil is well fractured, with no sizeable chunks of soil.

Second Scenario

This part of the field was ripped with large covering boards on the rear shanks.  As you will see it has created a little “ridge” at 36” across the back of the tool.  Keep in mind that the corn planter wants a flat sooth playing field to plant into next spring.   Due to the ridging it will be hard to one pass next spring and plant into a uniform seed bed.  If this ground is not worked backed this fall it will provide challenges to next year’s corn crop emergence and consistency.  The challenge with using a ripper with large covering board means as we dig you will find residue incorporated to deeper depths than desired.  The soil structure is different as well and you will have uneven soil temperatures and well as uneven water distribution when working and planting into next spring.

Third Scenario

In the final scenario we used a ripper as well, but no covering boards were on the shanks.  This tool is equipped with a 4 bar harrow on the back to help with the leveling of the soil.  You will also see that using this tool keeps the residue high, due to the lack of the covering boards, as well as the harrow pulling the residue to the surface.  The soil is fractured evenly and will be set up for a one pass and plant scenario next spring.

In closing:

The three different scenarios show how using a vertical tillage tool can change the outcome of what your primary fall tillage tools need to be and how well they work.  The goal is to provide good soil shatter and residue sizing with the vertical tillage tool.  Then follow with your primary fall tillage tool that also keeps the residue high and the seed bed level.  Maintaining soil moisture and structure going into the 2013 growing season will be paramount as we are very short on sub-soil moisture.

Remember the two main points are the cut, size, and location of your residue and good fractured soil.  If you keep it level and even, you will be a better corn farmer, bar none!


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