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Jeff_a_Caldwell
Senior Contributor

Tillage this fall?

Just saw a report from Mahdi Al-Kaisi at Iowa State saying tillage isn't the best idea this fall. Of course, that was before this rain fell over the weekend. But, he says keeping residue intact in the field may be a better choice than getting in there and knocking it out this fall. 

 

Anybody changing tillage plans this fall? Or, will you flat-out be too busy to get in the field and get it done anyway?

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20 Replies
buckfarmer
Senior Contributor

Re: Tillage this fall?

My fall tillage plan never seems to go as planed. I'll try to plant more cover crops, rye grass and cereal rye, this year. Most of my ground is HEL so never do primary fall tillage anyway. I do like to lightly disk corn stalks, but it's a low priority.
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Jeff_a_Caldwell
Senior Contributor

Re: Tillage this fall?

Great comments, Buck. So, you're going to plant "more" covers this year...sounds like you're an old hand with that. Would love to hear what's worked well for you -- and maybe what hasn't worked -- in your past experience with cover crops!

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tree fmr
Advisor

Re: Tillage this fall?

No till for 20+ years so won't change that. Cover crops will go if the crops come out soon enough. Rye has worked the best, radishes not a bad choice if on early enough. Have had cover crops flown on but never seem to get an even stand that way.
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hanktbd
Senior Contributor

Re: Tillage this fall?

Jeff,

 

Would love to notill the whole farm, but, haven't figured out how to get rid of the compaction from todays heavy equipment and having to mud in or out an occaisional crop like this spring or fall of 2010 without at least chisel plowing occaisionaly. Also haven't figured out how to get the P down into the root zone far enough to be available during a dry year like the last 2 without at least a little tillage. Currently chisel every other fall and disk or field cultivate that chiseled ground in the spring.

 

Interesting to see the neighbors (several of them) pulling chunks larger than basketballs while chiseling or ripping this fall. I assume it is due to having to work the ground so wet this spring.

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Jeff_a_Caldwell
Senior Contributor

Re: Tillage this fall?

That reminds me...I was thinking about that the other day. I worked a summer in college as a slab boy for one of the aerial sprayers in my hometown. Wow, those guys are nuts. My daughters are going to get sooooooo sick of me preaching the virtues of working your tail off when I yammer on and on about that summer job when they're that age. Ha!

 

Anyway, on to my questions: How do they retrofit planes to "spray on" cover crop seed like that? Is it just a matter of bigger nozzles, basically, or do they use a whole other delivery system tied to the plane's hopper? And, is the seed flown on dry, or do they slug it out in a water slurry or something? Seems like doing it dry would make you have seed go everywhere, but if you wet it down, it'd run the risk of rotting quicker. 

 

That ol' boy I worked for had an old pea-green Ford Ranchero that he kept filled with some of that 110-octane plane fuel, and when we'd send a pilot out to spray the wrong field and he'd get out of radio range or something, he'd have me jump in that old rust bucket and motor out to where they were going. Man, could that thing fly...

 

 

buckfarmer
Senior Contributor

Re: Tillage this fall?

NO silver bullet on cover crops for me. Lots of trial and lots error. As to being an old hand, when I was a kid we raised tobacco and copped all our corn for silage. We always had a cover on that ground, since both crops left the ground totally bare. But even back then it was kind of a system of whatever was cheap and easy. Usually it was wheat or cereal rye. Now use some radishes, turnips, oats if I get it planted early enough. Annual rye grass is probably my most used cover but I'm open to try about anything.
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Shaggy98
Senior Advisor

Re: Tillage this fall?

I tried a blend of Tillage Radish, Forage Peas and Oats this past spring but the late freezes put a stop to them before they got a good start.  However, when I no-till drilled that particular field to winter wheat this past week, that ground was so much more mellow then the rest of my ground it was unbelievable.  Almost like driving acrossed a sponge, so maybe I received more benefits than I actually thought I did.  I'm considering the same blend next spring, but instead of drilling in late March, I will push that back to late April.

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Jim Meade / Iowa City
Senior Advisor

Re: Tillage this fall?

They use a big spreader and the seed is sown dry from about 50-60 feet.  Coverage is about 90 ft plus overlap.  The hopper holds about 17-20 acres at 1 bu/acre.

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buckfarmer
Senior Contributor

Re: Tillage this fall?

Shaggy you probably had some underground activity from you cover crop even though what you could see growing wasn't impressive. I don't really plan on getting any forage from my cover crops, so I'd rather have a bunch of roots with not as much growth.
Funny how a forum about tillage has turned to cover crops. May be a indication of what is more important to farmers now.
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