The combination of genetically modified plants, higher plant populations and healthier hybrids has added up to tougher cornstalks. Ken Ferrie reminds farmers to make upfront considerations to speed up the decomposition of this residue.
"Your decision will depend on your crop rotation," he says. "It’s different for corn on corn than soybeans after corn."
In corn-on-corn fields, Ferrie says, farmers may need to consider running a chopping corn head or following up with a shredder. Also, an application of ammonium nitrogen in the fall would help speed up the process of decomposition.
In corn/soybean rotation, Ferrie says, making a pass with a moderate vertical tillage harrow to size the stalks will help kick-start the process a year before the field will go back to corn.
In both examples, he reminds farmers that the microbes that do the decomposing are in the soil, so the sized stalks and residue may need to be incorporated for a successful breakdown.
Learn more in this episode of "Corn College TV."