Tips to manage your tillage program this spring if the weather didn’t cooperate this fall
With warmer temperatures on the horizon it's time to start prepping equipment for the 2015 growing season. Now is the time to start planning your spring tillage program. With a late harvest and early winter, the window of opportunity for fall tillage may have been cut short across the Midwest. Using the right combination of primary and secondary tillage in a timely manner will still provide an adequate seedbed for planting. Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie recommends the following tips for tillage programs in the spring:
- Run shallow tillage. However, if you have deep ruts, Ferrie says to use deep tillage to fill the ruts and follow with shallow tillage across the entire field. In no-till environments, you might have to do tillage to prepare a proper seedbed for corn.
- When using a chisel plow, only run in dry conditions to enable the soil to fracture. Timeliness is essential in this step. To reduce the risk of clods, Ferrie recommends running a leveling tool within hours of the chisel plow.
- Set up your planter to handle more residue. This is especially true in a corn-on-corn situation. Ferrie suggests using row cleaners to handle potential clods more effectively.
- Manage your carbon penalty. If chiseling cornstalks in the spring, your carbon penalty will be more substantial than if you incorporated it in the fall. The solution is to realign your nutrient management plans to manage the carbon penalty. Ferrie recommends moving some of your nitrogen regimen to earlier in the spring. By having your nitrogen and fertilizer programs on the front end, this will help better manage the carbon penalty during the decomposition of cornstalks in spring.