Ecosystems

Last updated on February 23, 2014

A specific example: No-till soybeans

  • Soybeans are a highly erosive crop when tilled conventionally
  • Conventional tillage problems are reduced substantially using no-till
  • Need good no-till planter to cut through previous crop's residue. Equipment manufacturers have been improving no-till planters in recent years
    • plant soybeans ¾ to 1" in depth
    • good soil-seed contact is needed

The biggest obstacles for successfully no-tilling soybeans are:

  • Stand establishment  need varieties with good emergence and good prr resistance
  • Weed control  success in no-tilling soybeans is usually directly proportional to success in controlling weeds.

Advantages of no-till

  • reduced soil erosion
  • reduced costs (if successful)
  • should conserve soil moisture in a dry year

Disadvantages of no-till

  • reliance on chemicals for weed control
  • need specialized equipment
  • soil compaction due to equipment may be more of a problem than in conventional tillage

Other methods: Double-cropping (relay) soybeans

No-till double-crop soybeans are common in SE U.S. Minimizes problems associated with:

  • slow canopy development of soybeans
  • erosion
  • compaction via hard rainfall

Practices

  • soybeans are double cropped after winter wheat or winter barley
  • when double cropping after a winter cereal, farmers usually grow an early maturing winter cereal variety
  • Farmers in Illinois and Indiana occasionally double crop soybeans after winter wheat

Some farmers no-till soybeans right behind a wheat swather

  • wheat is swathed at or just after physiological maturity has been reached
  • wheat is combined when the swath has dried
  • straw should be shredded or baled

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