TYPES OF TILLAGE AND THE EFFECTS ON SOIL AND CROP PRODUCTION

TYPES OF TILLAGE:

Throughout the world many different tillage practices take place. From wooden plows to advanced sub-soilers. Even with this broad range of practices they can all be classified as either conservation tillage, conventional tillage, minimal tillage, and no tillage(Commonly referred to as no till). You might be asking yourself, why doesn’t everyone use no till? Wcornadell the answer is simple. Every soil type is different, and every crop is different. There are five reasons why tillage is used throughout the world in farming practices. Seed bed preparation, soil and water conservation,erosion prevention, loosening compacted soil, and weed control. With the use of herbicides, hoeing for weeds isn’t necessary.

SPRING TILLAGE: 

Every spring seed bed preparation is necessary. Most common practices include the use of shovel type cultivator and some type of disc or harrow. Many may question what this does for moisture content and soil erosion with the early spring rains. Tillage too early can be a big mistake. When the ground is saturated with early spring rains and melting snow it is easily compacted 9600FieldCultivator-PhotoGallery1_1000x667pxwhen equipment treads across it. When large chunks of wet ground are turned over, they bake in the sun into impenetrable clods. Heavy wet soils don’t form a loose, air retaining soil desired for new plants. However too much tillage can result in a soil with the consistency of powder that will crust over with heavy rain. The right tillage practice for your soil can be the difference between an outstanding yield, or a huge yield loss.

FALL TILLAGE:

Fall tillage has changed greatly from 40 years back where every farmer went out and deep ripped his field or moldboard plowed. With today’s research it is very obvious disrupting the soil structure and breaking up the hard pan isn’t as necessary as farmers once thought. A light tillage pass such as using a vertical tillage tool or disc can help incorporate residue into the soil as well as introduce air into the soil. Shallowing up shanks on your chisel plow or ripper and using narrow points can reduce the amount of clods left in your field which isn’t much of an issue in the fall, it will just take more work getting the seed bed ready in the spring. Another form of tillage is frost tillage.  Frost tillage is tilling on a slightly frozen soil. The idea is that as the surface of the soil freezes, it pulls or wicks moisture from the lower layers of soil, making them drier. With a slight layer of frost soil compaction is also reduced greatly. However it is a greater strain on equipment and may take more horse power. Knowing your soil and composition, can help you decide which type of tillage practice is right for your your field.

tiger_dt_chall_6Created by: Cody Williams a Senior Western Illinois University student pursuing a B.S in AG Business; BHE graduate class of 2014; Annawan High School Graduate class of 2012

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