During a recent field day on July 1 at the University of Minnesota Extension's Southwest Research and Outreach Center at Lamberton, Minn., demonstrations on different tillage types were given. As reported by AgriNews, a few of the demonstrations focused specifically on geographical location. For instance, Extension crops educator, Liz Stahl, demonstrated that in southwestern Minnesota, no-till methods didn't preform as well as other conservation tillage methods like strip-till and ridge-till.  

Stahl has consistently found that no-till leads to the lowest yielding corn and soybean plots in her area. While corn can emerge from the high-residue no-till just fine, Stahl has seen soybeans struggle in no-till and strip till situations to the tune of 10,000 fewer plants per acre. Looking at soil tests as measures for soil health, Stahl often did not find any statistical difference between results from fields under strip-till, rip-till and moldboard plow conditions, but she did find differences in organic matter, and potassium and phosphorus levels.

SWROC soil scientist Jeff Strock, who's been examining the hydraulic properties of varied tillage practices found that organic matter is depleted in heavier tillage, which translates ultimately in less water holding capacity. Strock also noted that strip-till plots had slightly higher water median infiltration measures, though not so far afield from those of moldboard plow and rip-till plots as to be statistically significant. Of the three though, he found that strip-till would likely perform best under heavy rain.

Jodi DeJong-Hughes, an Extension crops educator based in Willmar, Minn., demonstrated that 1% of organic matter in soil can hold 27,000 gallons of water per acre. According to DeJong-Hughes, organic matter also benefits soil structure as smaller pore spaces can better hold onto water.

 Extension personnel will be talking more in depth about conservation tillage at the Conservation Tillage Conference set for Dec. 15-16 in Willmar, Minn. For more information, visit extension.umn.edu/agriculture/tillage

To read AgriNew's full article click here.