Conservation Tillage

Crop rotations increase crop yields by improving soil conditions and reducing weed and insect populations. Rotations also help producers use conservation tillage successfully.

Managing weeds in reduced-tillage systems requires a planned approach. Through planning, successful conservation tillage producers anticipate potential problems, find timely solutions, and make use of integrated pest management techniques (IPM), such as field scouting and crop rotation, to find alternative pest management strategies. Flexibility and foresight also aid in success.

Soil is a complex medium, but for simplicity we can think of it as a combination of solid mineral and organic particles and pore space. Pore space allows for air and water storage and movement in soils. Compaction squeezes the soil and, since solids do not compress, pore space is reduced. A footprint or wheel track rut in a field, for example, signals compaction.

To understand soil fertility and nutrient management in conservation tillage systems, we need to recognize the unique conditions in these systems that influence nutrient behavior and management. One of the most important functions of conservation tillage systems is the maintenance of crop residues on the soil surface to protect the soil from erosion.

Producers seed cover crops to provide a soil cover or barrier against soil erosion. In addition, cover crops can improve the soil by adding organic matter, nutrients, and stability and by acting as scavengers to trap leftover nutrients that otherwise might leach out.

There are many potential economic advantages for reducing the number of tillage operations for crop enterprises.

The research objectives of this study are to evaluate performance of five corn hybrids which vary in relative maturities and suitability ratings for conservation tillage, and measure key soil properties that are likely to influence the performance of the different tillage systems.