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Residue Distribution Critical for No-till Seeding

Posted: September 9, 2014

No-till planting starts with the harvest of the previous crop, because uniformly distributed crop residue is critical to obtaining a good stand.

There are things that can be done at the front of the combine and at the back. The combine head can be set up to limit crop residue intake. Any residue that does not enter the combine does not need to be distributed. Raising the head is one option to avoid taking in too much residue.

However, remember that some of those tall stalks can cause problems when they get stuck in planter or drill chains and other parts. Some corn heads strip the cobs off the plant, leaving most of the corn plant before it enters the combine. There are trash reduction kits available that allow you to modify your head to accomplish this objective. Besides helping with residue distribution, these kits also help to improve combine performance and allow for faster harvesting speed. In addition, these kits may include crushing knife rolls to crush corn stalks to speed up decomposition. At the back of the combine, chaff, stalks, leaves and cobs or empty pods need to be distributed over the entire width of the combine head. So if you have a 15 foot combine head you need to distribute the residue uniformly over that width behind the combine. Larger heads will necessitate more aggressive residue spreading. There are bat spreaders and chaff spreaders, as well as rotary choppers.

I would like to call attention to the need to spread chaff besides straw. Usually, the chaff exits the back of the combine at a different location than the stalks. Therefore a chaff spreader needs to be on the combine besides a stalk spreader. Residue distribution is extremely important to have success with your no-till seedings this fall and next year. A video about crop residue distribution and other no-till issues is available.

Contact Information

Sjoerd Willem Duiker
  • Associate Professor of Soil Management and Applied Soil Physics
Email:
Phone: 814-863-7637