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Have your agronomic questions answered by a Farm Journal agronomist. E-mail us directly at TestPlots@FarmJournal.com, and we’ll respond on this blog to provide an interactive dialogue.

What Kind Of Tillage Tool Will Break-Up Compaction The Best?

Dec 03, 2010

Question:  I'm thinking about buying an implement for fall soybean stubble tillage and was wondering what you guys thought would do the best job breaking up compaction and give me the best seedbed for next year’s corn?  I have mostly heavy soils with a few hill tops and sand streaks. Any input you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

Answer:  For a corn-soybean rotation we typically are not real concerned about burying a lot of residue as we are in the case for corn-on-corn.  We often use more aggressive tillage in corn-on-corn to rip up root balls and bury residue.  The disc ripper type tools are helpful for that.  In the corn-soybean rotation, we are trying to create a uniform soil density and prepare an adequate seed bed.  We can often accomplish this with less aggressive tools with closer shank spacing.  You want to make sure the tool you are using has uniform fracture of the soil in-between the shanks, as not to leave “columns” in-between the shanks.  We can typically get good shatter with 15-inch or less shank spacing.  The point on the shank will also contribute to good shatter in-between.  You would need to evaluate this in your own soil types.  In some cases a narrow 2-inch point can accomplish this; in other cases you may need a narrow wing point to help with the shatter.  Always keep in mind what your options are for leveling after your primary tillage. The smoother the surface after primary tillage the easier it will be to level with a vertical tillage leveling tool.  There are several primary tillage tools with leveling devices attached on the back that can set you up for a harrow type (vertical tillage) tool to prepare the final seedbed. 
 
This blog is provided as an interactive way for you to have your questions answered by our Farm Journal Agronomists. E-mail your nitrogen, soil fertility, soil density, planter set-up, scouting, and other questions to: TestPlots@FarmJournal.com.
 
 
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