Yield Benefit or Cost Associate with Different Conventional Tillage Practices

Kent Luthi

Proper tillage seems to be a never ending struggle for farmers across America. Fred Below, University of Illinois, states that tillage is only number 5 as one of the 7 wonders of corn production. However, improper tillage can be detrimental to corn growth and yield. To address the cost of improper tillage, we would like to put a few different conventional tillage practices to the test in our own backyard. This will create yield data for area growers to compare when struggling to decide what is right for their operation and to understand the cost associated with malfunctioning tillage tools.

In the fall of 2016, we put in a tillage plot with three different tillage scenarios: 1.) 7 inch DMI points, 2.) 14 in 360 Yield Center Bullet points, and 3.) a control where we ran no shanks down with only the front disks doing slight mixing. We plan to determine any difference in soil fracturing and residue incorporation between the three of them before and after winter freeze. We will include the economic cost of tillage skips or malfunctioning shanks due to sheared bolts for each tillage treatment. Jodi DeJong-Hughes from UMN Extension (Willmar office) will be helping us with proper plot protocol and data collection. She will also be assisting us with tools such as a soil penetrometer for testing density. We will be working closely with Precision Ag 360 to use tools such as a 360 Soilscan and Climate Fieldview to track nitrogen availability in each test strip and data collection points. We hope to continue the project into 2018 as replicated trials for a Level 3 grant proposal.