• Great Plains Tillage: Stuck in a Rut?

Spring Tillage: How to Deal with Ruts

Before and After: Turbo-Max® Vertical Tillage Implement

Stuck in a rut? Not for long!

With all the additional moisture during fall harvest, the conditions have led to moderately to severely rutted fields around the country. To ensure a nurturing, uniform seedbed and avoid yield-loss, these ruts must be removed prior to spring planting. Ruts cause problems for all types of producers, but they can become an especially unique problem in low disturbance no-till fields. No matter your tillage preference, Great Plains has a solution to combat a variety of field conditions.

First, you should assess the severity of the ruts. Then, choose a solution that matches your specific field needs—in many cases, the solution may involve a two-pass tillage system. Our full line of tillage equipment is designed to meet the needs of your individual operation and eliminate ruts in a variety of field conditions, including low disturbance no-till circumstances. 

For moderately rutted fields in a conventional environment: Use tillage tools that move soil into the ruts and level the ground. Tools with concave discs or vertical tillage tools with an adjustable gang angle do a great job repairing the damage caused during harvest. Make sure the tool is equipped with an aggressive leveler to leave the field as smooth as possible. 

Best tools for moderately rutted fields: 7000 Series Disk Harrow, Turbo-Max®


 

For moderately rutted fields in a low disturbance no-till environment: Choose only a true vertical tillage tool with an adjustable gang angle and aggressive rolling basket levelers: A Turbo-Max is the only choice that will fill in the ruts without adding a compaction layer in the root zone. Beware of other competitors that market their products as vertical tillage—most are actually high-speed disks. Avoid concave disc-equipped products that appear to give short term gain but actually damage the soil structure by adding a tillage layer. These tools will require you to correct them later on, or accept a soil profile that is less protected against drought and adverse conditions. Remember, the last pass rules. Just one pass with a conventional tillage tool will erase the positive effects of vertical tillage and reduce yields.

Best tool for moderate ruts in a low disturbance no-till field: Turbo-Max


 

For severely rutted fields: If the ruts are deeper than 6 inches, consider leveling the surface with a shallow pass followed by a deep tillage tool to reset the profile. If minimum disturbance is desired, use an Inline Sub-Soiler on ruts up to 12" deep. If burying residue is desired, consider a Turbo-Chisel® or Max-Chisel™ running 8" to 12" deep. An Ultra-Chisel™ will also eliminate ruts up to 7" deep.

Best deep tillage tools for severely rutted fields: Inline Sub-Soiler, Turbo-Chisel®, Ultra-Chisel™, Max-Chisel


 

For severely rutted fields in a low disturbance no-till environment:  Level ruts with a pass from a shallow coulter tool. Follow up by resetting the profile with an Inline Sub-Soiler. This will be effective on ruts up to 12" deep. The Turbo-Chisel and Max-Chisel are great options for erasing deep ruts. However, they are aggressive tillage tools, so a finish pass must be made. Remember, any horizontal finish pass will add a layer and that may cost you yield. By using a Turbo-Max to maintain your vertically-tilled seedbed, this can be avoided. Remember, the last pass rules. Just one pass with a conventional tillage tool will erase the positive effects of vertical tillage and reduce yields.

Best deep tillage tools for severely rutted fields in a low disturbance no-till environment: Turbo-Max followed by an In-Line Sub-Soiler


 

For more information about choosing the right tillage tool for your operation, visit our Tillage Guide. No matter your tillage preference, Great Plains has a solution for your operation.