Ask an Agronomist
Which Tillage Tool Breaks Up Compaction Best?
Oct 17, 2011
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 giving me the best seedbed for next year’s corn. I have mostly heavy soils with a few hilltops 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 disk 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 seedbed. 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, so as not to leave "columns" in between the shanks. We can typically get good shatter with 15" 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" 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.
Combine operators often are so focused on combine adjustments related to threshing and separating grain that they overlook the importance of adjusting their combine’s residue chopping and distribution system.