As farmers gear up for harvest, many will be preparing for fall tillage as well. Harvesting and tillage practices can have a direct impact on crop performance next spring, according to tillage product specialist Justin Render of Kinze Manufacturing.
“Most farmers perform fall tillage right behind their combines, or as soon as possible after harvest,” Render says. “Forecasts for an early harvest in many parts of the country this fall will also mean a sooner start for tillage.”
He recommends these four practices for effective fall soil and residue management:
- Reduce compaction — Wet weather and saturated soils increase the risk of compaction during harvest. Waiting for the soil to dry is recommended, but not always feasible. “Tillage is one way to manage surface compaction by taking care of ruts or tracks in the field. Reducing compaction factors helps to avoid field problems that can last for many years,” Render says.
- Distribute residue evenly — Combines should be properly set up to achieve even distribution of residue. “Pay attention to your combine head, chopping and spreading systems for proper adjustment and operation, especially as harvest conditions change,” Render advises.
- Speed decomposition — Crushing, shredding and spreading the crop residue evenly will speed the decomposition process. “The faster farmers can get residue near microbial life when temperatures are warmer, the faster residue will start decomposing,” he explains. “Residue that is not incorporated or put into contact with the soil in the fall will typically take longer to decompose.”
- Consider a winter cover crop — Protect your soil over winter and early spring with cover crops, but keep carbon and nitrogen cycles in mind when selecting and managing them. “Legumes capture nitrogen from the air and transform it into soil. Other crops, like grasses or brassicas, hunt nutrients in the soil and immobilize them in the root zone, saving them to mineralize at a later time when crops can use them,” Render explains.
Kinze has added three new narrow transport models to its Mach Till hybrid horizontal tillage lineup this fall to allow farmers to easily transport the units from field to field. Offered in 30-, 36- and 41-foot sizes in a three section frame, the units fold for transport down to 13 feet, 2 inches for the 30- and 36-foot models, and 16-feet for the 41-foot unit. The unit model numbers are 302, 362 and 412. Kinze continues to offer 20- and 26-foot bi-fold models with a transport width of 13 feet, 10 inches.
For more information, farmers can contact their Kinze dealer or visit their website.