A Guide to Producers' Most Common Tillage Problems
No matter whether you practice conventional tillage, vertical tillage, no-till, or a combination of each, producers face a wide variety of tillage-related challenges. Great Plains is proud to offer distinct solutions to common tillage problems, enabling you to till how you want.
Problem: Crop residue seems to be negatively impacting my fields.
Distinct Solution: Improper residue management can wreak havoc on the growing process. By incorporating residue, planters will have an easier time navigating the field and placing seeds more effectively. The process of mixing the residue also contributes to faster residue breakdown and feeds beneficial microbial interactions. By reducing the amount of existing residue above the soil’s surface, it consequently reduces the chance for residual crop diseases and pests by destroying their environments and creating unfavorable conditions.
To combat improper residue management, producers should adopt a complete tillage package. For deep tillage passes in the fall, producers should consider tools such as the NEW Ultra-Disk™, Max-Chisel™, Turbo-Chisel®, Ultra-Chisel™, plows, or the 7000 Series Disk Harrow. For a shallower, spring pass, producers can use the Turbo-Max®, Field Cultivator, or Disc-O-Vator® as a residue management solution.
Problem: My seedbeds aren’t quite where I would like them to be and it’s limiting my crop from reaching its growth potential.
Distinct Solution: Producers know that getting seeds off to the right start is vital to a successful harvest. Uneven seedbeds affect germination and emergence by creating pockets with different moisture levels and temperatures, contributing to uneven growth. Also, disturbances in the soil like washouts or rugged terrain can affect drill and planter performance, particularly the accuracy of seed placement.
To create the ideal seedbed, producers should consider using a tillage tool like a Turbo-Max, Disc-O-Vator, Field Cultivator, Lister Cultivator, or Flex Harrow. These tools aggressively size residue and allow the soil to warm and dry more consistently throughout the field. They also help to create an ideal seedbed by creating a smooth foundation for planting equipment, allowing it to perform with more accuracy and efficiency.
Problem: I am experiencing herbicide-resistant weeds in my fields and they are taking over my crops.
Distinct Solution: It’s no secret that one of the biggest challenges facing producers is the ever-growing list of herbicide-resistant weeds. These weeds typically emerge late, grow rapidly, and continue to grow throughout the summer until the crop canopies. Once these weeds have emerged, controlling them can be very difficult, especially since non-selective herbicides (those that kill everything) cannot be used with a growing crop.
In this situation, producers need a tool that allows them to kill and bury the weeds without damaging existing crops or creating a rough seedbed. Ideally, these tools are aggressive, yet provide a smooth finish with the fewest number of passes. For pre-planting weed control, tools like the NEW Ultra-Disk, Max-Chisel, disks, and plows can help achieve the desired results.
Weeds in emerged crops can also be costly for a producer. If weeds appear in growing crops, producers have typically tried to apply in-crop selective herbicides. Often called “rescue-type” treatments, these herbicides are more expensive and are specific to the size of weeds they are designed to fight. Using these selective herbicides does not guarantee that the weeds will be completely eliminated—these chemicals are often used only to “control” or “suppress” weeds. When configured as a row-crop cultivator, the Great Plains Lister-Cultivator serves as an alternative solution for in-crop weed removal.
Tillage provides an immediate solution for weeds by instantly removing them. However, the best solution for resistant weeds is prevention. Tillage can be used as a potential mode of action to help control resistant weeds. By combining a healthy herbicide mix with tillage, this can prevent these resistant weeds from establishing and taking over your livelihood.
Problem: My fields are suffering from compaction and therefore, affecting the growth of my crops.
Distinct Solution: Before addressing compaction, it is important to understand the source and its negative impact on crops. Compaction can occur from a variety of sources. The most common type of compaction occurs from tire tracks and ruts from equipment traffic or grazing livestock. However, compaction can also occur naturally with normal crop production practices. Certain soil types and damp conditions can affect the field’s potential for compaction.
Studies have shown that compacted soil reduces yields by 10-20% on average. However, severe cases can reduce yields by as much as 50-60%. When soil is compacted, soil aeration is reduced, drainage is poor, and the plant’s access to nutrients is limited. Additionally, the plants face an increased resistance as their roots attempt to penetrate the soil. All of these factors create additional challenges for growing plants.
Producers should seek out a tool to address these density layers. Depending on tillage preferences, options are available to address these layers both with and without disturbing the surface of the soil. For those who practice conventional tillage, a Max-Chisel, Turbo-Chisel, or Inline Sub-Soiler can help to remove compaction layers and fill ruts. For no-till producers, the sub-soiler addresses the problem while leaving soil residue on the surface, protecting the soil.
Check out our Tillage Application Guide to help you determine the correct solution for your operation.
Ready to find your distinct solution? Contact your local Great Plains dealer to learn more about our full tillage line and see our current financing options. No matter your tillage preference, www.GreatPlainsAg.com has a solution to fit every operation.