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Agronomy Talk

E. INDIANA AND MICHIGAN - BRENT MINETT, CCA

Considerations Before Fall-Tilling

Published on Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Although fall tillage is a common practice across much of the Corn Belt, there are scenarios that favor the practice and others that do not. Many times following harvest, we begin plowing without considering a multitude of factors that might limit the benefits we should experience from making that decision. Right off the top, we know that corn after corn (CAC) is a place where we consistently see benefit from fall tillage. Having a lot of residue to deal with and the need for a good seedbed the following spring are two primary considerations.

Fields that were compacted last spring by tillage or planting operations are very good candidates for fall tillage. Slope and proximity to drainage are a couple of considerations that lead to not doing fall tillage. If you have highly erodible soils they could wash with rainfall and melting snow if you plow. Not only do we lose valuable topsoil, but the nutrients we placed in that soil end up where we don’t want them.

Freshly tilled soil sure smells good in the fall, but there are times when it pays and times when we should leave that plow in the shed.

Author: Brent Minett

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