To till or not to till... - The Combine Forum
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post #1 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-08-2019, 10:40 PM Thread Starter
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To till or not to till...

These pictures are of a no till field split with a tilled field. It is heavy clay. The right side has been no till for about 13 years with one year after a few years getting a light cultivator pass in spring to dry it up. We finally have a couple dry years under our belts now and it doesnt appear that the no till will be better. Last year i do not think it was better either. I cant really see any benefit to no till now other than possibly saving a few bucks on tillage. When it was wet no till fell on its face and now when its dry its only on par. If i see a yeild drag this year i may just get off the notill band wagon. The year prior was canola with only a heavy harrow pass on both sides so essentially seeded into the same conditions. Any thoughts on why the difference? Or why im not seeing the benefit of no till?

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post #2 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-08-2019, 10:43 PM Thread Starter
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Ok pictures didnt load so here they are...

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post #3 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-08-2019, 11:17 PM
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without starting the no-till war, I think its a what type of dirt and how you like to farm. I'm the same way, one day its screw it I'm selling the disk and cultivator, the next its drag them back out because I'm tired of my crop not being out of the ground right away.. I would says as long as its not drying the ground out its a horse a piece. Save fuel and time, or wait for the crop to grow past the stubble
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post #4 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-09-2019, 12:18 AM
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Was there compaction or are there subsoil issues that existed prior to starting no-till?

I’m in different country/soil types/topography; but I’ve seen it where someone has switched some of their country to no-till/min til without addressing the problems caused by the earlier tillage practices e.g. compaction OR underlying soil issues (acidity/salinity/water-logging) at depth and the conventional seems to perform better.
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post #5 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-09-2019, 12:23 AM
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There seems to be a lot of straw toxicity going on this year, especially with the canola but even soybeans and cereals are an issue. I think the recent dry years has slowed the rate of decomposition of this crop material.

My best wheat this spring was what I harrowed more for avadex and best canola is on ground protilled twice because of heavy corn residue. I should have protilled ahead of my corn instead of going in direct. I think a guy can get carried away but some tillage is needed to deal with big straw crops IMO. I try to do mine late fall or right ahead of drill to conserve moisture.

We tried zero-till in the 90's and it didn't work for us then, even now with better choppers and fancy drills I don't think it is the path to the biggest crops. Something in the middle seems to be the best....here.

I also wonder about chemical residue and if tillage can help disperse that???

Adsinaus our frost in winter generally deals with our compaction for us. Doubt that is an issue, or the main one.
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post #6 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-09-2019, 08:16 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by adsinaus View Post
Was there compaction or are there subsoil issues that existed prior to starting no-till?

I’m in different country/soil types/topography; but I’ve seen it where someone has switched some of their country to no-till/min til without addressing the problems caused by the earlier tillage practices e.g. compaction OR underlying soil issues (acidity/salinity/water-logging) at depth and the conventional seems to perform better.
There was nothing obvious that im aware of. That being said if there was compaction issues i was under the impression that switching to no till would eventually take care of itself? The ground is heavy and it is hard now with it being so dry so i am starting to think that it just needs some help to loosen up with a bit of tillage. Ive used a lemken on other fields before seeding and the crops sure seemed to like that...
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post #7 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-09-2019, 09:49 AM
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while I agree compaction isn't a big issue its one I worry we maybe ignore it too much too. there is a big arc around all of our gates where nothing is growing, wonder to what degree it radiates further out.....


same goes for where we seem to have water pooling and causing root rots. I do know someone that was doing a bit of ripping in the fall and said that anytime you went through a those spots the tractor would lug right down, that they were encountering a lot more resistance there, could be some sub surface compaction causing reduced infiltration.


We have been zero / min till for almost 20 years now but I would be very curious to see what effect ripping would have on a few acres.... have started doing fall tillage on one field a year to try and clean up some ruts and so forth. sure see the wild oats come back with a vengeance, and poor emergence in these dry springs. not a practice I would consider on any sort of large acreage for sure!
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post #8 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-09-2019, 09:54 AM
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We also farm extremely heavy unforgiving clay, nearly always too wet. Switched to no till during the extreme wet springs, since any tillage we tried to do just caused so much compaction it was a losing battle. There is a very noticeable drag on getting the crop above the stubble and looking even, but not sure it translates into anything by fall. In the extreme wet or dry years it is a definite benefit, the just right years probably a detriment.

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post #9 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-09-2019, 09:56 AM
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All farming practices are regional. Just because it gets lots of international press, don't think it is the only way for your area. Drive around and see what the best farmers are doing and how it works. If you are the only one in your area doing no till and have no one to help blaze a method that makes you a pioneer. Its always easy to tell the pioneers because their a$$ is full of arrows.
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post #10 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-09-2019, 09:56 AM
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Was the canola straight cut last year by any chance?
Our wheat on straight cut canola stubble is pretty brutally uneven this year. We've been seeding straight into some heavy trash with good results until this year. My feeling is the straight cut canola straw just wasn't half rotted in the swath like usual. Probably a light tillage/heavy harrow pass in the spring would have made a big difference.

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