Discovering the Power of More with Vertical Tillage
What is “true” vertical tillage?
Great Plains defines vertical tillage as working the soil vertically to avoid the addition of horizontal layers or density changes. It is important to avoid the creation of density changes because they create a barrier for the plant, which impedes root growth and water infiltration. The plants’ roots dictate the overall health of the plant, as they deliver nutrients and water throughout, contributing to a higher yield. Without a strong set of roots, the plant becomes more susceptible to threats like wind and drought. Maintaining uniform density in the soil profiles and preventing compaction layers is what vertical tillage is all about. By using a vertical finish tool, it will help establish an ideal seedbed to allow precision seed placement by the planter.
For spring vertical tillage, the tillage tool should manage residue, maintain density, and create the ideal seedbed for planting. When managing residue, the tool should chop plant matter into pieces that can be easily moved with a row cleaner and can flow through a planter. To maintain soil density, the tool should enter the soil perpendicular to the ground and cleanly cut through the residue. To avoid creating ridges, the tool should never move soil sideways.
As planting season nears, creating the ideal seedbed is vital to a successful crop. Vertical tillage equipment, such as those with a rolling spike harrow and reel combination, can help prepare an ideal seedbed by working the ground vertically to create a smooth, level surface, as well as at seeding depth. The smooth and level consistency of the soil will help your planter navigate the field for precision seed placement and it will help ensure even emergence of your crops.
What are the benefits of vertical tillage?
With a vertical tillage system in place, producers are likely to see more advantages at work.
In today’s agricultural economy, producers need to gain every yield advantage. A variety of studies have shown that vertical tillage can help producers attain a higher crop yield. In a five-year Farm Journal study, vertical tillage corn yielded 12.7 more bu./acre than those planted with conventional tillage practices. Without compaction layers to restrict plant growth, plants are free to grow and have the opportunity to obtain more nutrients from the soil, contributing to higher yields.
More root growth and nutrient absorption
Without the barriers created by conventional tillage methods, root systems are free to flourish. This root growth allows for more access points to soil nutrients and water – necessities for ideal crop health and higher yields. A sturdy root base also helps crops stand tall and withstand periods of droughts and high winds. With a highly-developed root system in place, crops are better equipped to adapt and tolerate unfavorable conditions, protecting your yield and bottom-line.
More water infiltration
To prepare for dry seasons, soils need to be able to absorb and store water, or plants will be unable to grow. Even when adequate water is available, density layers left from conventional tilling can cause water to become trapped, unable to reach the roots of plants, or the water may build up in soil layers and flood out seeds or established crops. By removing compaction layers with a vertical tillage tool, water is free to be distributed throughout the soil and stored until needed.
Producers are constantly looking for ways to save time, conserve resources, reduce expenses, and increase profits. Vertical tillage can help producers achieve results, such as a smooth and level seedbed in one pass, which saves producers time and fuel costs. Over the winter, vertical tillage practices can help the soil retain moisture and nutrients, boosting harvest yields – creating more dollars in your pocket.
As producers rely on the land for their income, it pays to choose agricultural methods that preserve our natural resources. To prevent soil erosion, vertical tillage laces the topsoil with residue and helps hold it into place. This practice also encourages decomposition and restores natural nutrients back into the soil. Similarly, the soil will be able to retain and distribute water as needed. For example, vertical tillage products like the Turbo-Max can help improve water quality and contribute to conservation efforts on HEL land.
Learn more about the benefits of vertical tillage at https://www.verticaltillage.com/.
What to look for in a vertical tillage tool
When selecting a vertical tillage tool, producers should keep several factors in mind:
- Erodibility of the soil
- Fall tillage program
- Residue breakdown
- Types of crops grown
- Crop rotations
Producers should also fully-investigate products that claim to be “vertical tillage.” Some companies are marketing equipment as vertical tillage tools, when in fact they are retrofitted disks with low-concavity fluted disc blades, meaning they are essentially high-speed disks that create density layers and ridges. Products that have straight coulters on coil springs do work the soil vertically, but they also create an inconsistent seedbed because they are forced up in denser soil and tough stalks and work deeper in light soil.
Discover why there’s more to the Max.
One of the industry-leaders in vertical tillage is the Great Plains Turbo-Max, offering both agronomic benefits of both spring vertical tillage and fall residue management. In the fall, the Turbo-Max can be run at an angle to bury more residue. This aids in the decaying process and pins the residue to the ground. In the spring, the Turbo-Max can be run straight to create the ideal seedbed to allow for precision planting.
The Turbo-Max is the ideal vertical tillage tool for min-tillers who want to size and anchor residue without aggressively working the ground in the fall. It vertically cuts residue and fractures the soil to create a smooth seedbed for uniform seed emergence. The Turbo-Max also does not create compaction layers, which allows roots to have the freedom to reach nutrients and moisture.
With new sizes and features, the Turbo-Max also offers producers more flexibility and control than ever before. With new working widths ranging from 8.5' to 48', operations of all sizes have access to these vertical tillage tools. Features like the hydraulically-adjustable tongue allow for easy front-to-back leveling and the new hydraulically-adjustable finishing reel helps prepare the optimal seedbed.
The Turbo-Max helps producers accomplish more with attachments like the Turbo-SeederTM, allowing producers to till and plant cover crops all in one pass. The hydraulically-adjustable gang angles cover residue in the fall at 3 to 6 degrees and prepare the ideal seedbed at 0 degrees. Turbo-Max blades are spaced 7½" apart on two rows of coulter gangs. Rear gangs offset the front gangs, splitting the blade spacing to 3¾" for superior residue sizing in one pass. Turbo-Max provides truly vertical cutting without the shearing caused by concave blades.
- NEW hydraulic tongue for easy front-to-back leveling
- NEW hydraulic adjustable finishing reel to prepare the optimal seedbed
- NEW sizes ranging from 8.5’ to 48’ to perfectly match your operation
- Hydraulically adjust gang angle from 0 to 6 degrees on the go for convenience
- Add Turbo-Seeder to select Turbo-Max models for single-pass cover crop application
The Turbo-Max is a progressive solution to maximize producers’ vertical tillage results. For more information about the Great Plains Turbo-Max, contact your local Great Plains dealer or visit https://www.greatplainsag.com/turbo-max.
Not quite ready to take it to the Max? Other vertical tillage tools offered by Great Plains include the Max-ChiselTM and Sub-Soiler. Learn more about these vertical tillage tools and other solutions at https://www.greatplainsag.com/en/implements/united-states/all-products.