Strip-till and no-till produced costs savings compared to aggressive tillage in a 3-year Ohio State University Extension. But none of the four tillage systems produced clear-cut advantages in corn grown after soybeans.

The study was conducted by Andy Kleinschmidt, who was the OSU Extension Educator for Van Wert County, and Gary Prill, OSU Extension associate and Farm Focus/research coordinator.

Work ongoing in a study conducted by Ohio State University that compared the results of four different tillage systems used for corn grown after soybeans.

The researchers compared strip-tillage, no-tillage, fall deep-tillage followed by spring field cultivation, and shallow fall discing.

The four tillage systems were replicated four times in a randomized, complete-block design.

Strip-till was performed on October 24, 2003, by using a six-row, 30-inch Trail Blazer strip-till machine digging 9 to 10 inches deep.

The fall deep-till/spring cultivate treatment consisted of using an M&W Earthmaster disc-ripper 12 inches deep on Oct. 24, 2003. That was followed by a spring field cultivation 3 inches deep with two passes of a Wil-Rich C-shank field cultivator on April 19, 2004.

A 3-inch-deep shallow disking was performed on Oct. 24, 2003 with an International #37 disk.

The study was planted using a John Deere 7000 Max Emerge six-row planter. Each individual plot contained 12 rows, 1,025 feet in length.

Early emergence populations (May 11, corn stage V1) and harvest populations  (September 30, 2004) were estimated by counting the number of plants on each side of a 17.5-foot tape at three different locations in each individual plot. The average number of plants counted per 17.5 feet was converted to plants per acre.

Yields were collected from one combine round (12 rows) in each plot. Individual plot weight and moisture was determined using a calibrated Ag Leader PF3000 yield monitor in a John Deere 6620 combine.

The Results

Data from 2004 — the third year for conducting this tillage trial at Farm Focus — suggests that there were statistically significant yield differences among the tillage systems compared, with conventional fall deep tillage/spring field cultivation yielding the lowest.

In each of the years this trial has been conducted there have been statistical yield differences between some of the tillage treatments.

The treatment with the highest yield differs from year to year with no single treatment always out yielding the others.  

Observations during the 2002 trial indicated significant dandelion pressure in the strip-till, no-till, and fall disked treatments as a possible reason for yields that were lower than the fall deep tillage/spring field cultivated plots, where spring tillage helped control weeds.

The results from these 3 years of four tillage comparisons, plus the comparison of conventional deep tillage to strip-tillage in 2003, would indicate that none of the tillage methods tested provided a consistent yield advantage over the others.

The tillage cost savings that may be realized in the no-till and reduced tillage methods (strip-till and fall disking only) as compared to conventional tillage must be weighed against the cost of any additional herbicides needed to control weeds in these tillage systems. This will vary based upon weed pressure at individual farms.