Corn Yield Response to Tillage

TRIAL OBJECTIVE

  • Different tillage practices are utilized by farmers for various reasons including:

    • Enhance residue decomposition
    • Control of pests
    • Conserve soil moisture
    • Deliver fertilizer to the root zone
    • Relieve soil compaction
  • This trial has been repeated at the Monmouth Learning Center over the last three years to compare different tillage practices and to examine their impact on corn yield.

     

RESEARCH SITE DETAILS

Location Monmouth, IL Planting Date 4/25/19
Soil Type Silt loam Harvest Date 10/9/19
Previous Crop Corn  Potential Yield (bu/acre) 250
Tillage Type Various Seeding Rate (seeds/acre) 36K

 

  • Two SmartStax® RIB Complete® corn products were planted:
    • 108-day RM
    • 114-day RM
    • No difference was noted in corn product response, so the results were averaged together. 
  • Three tillage practices were compared:

    • Conventional tillage with a chisel plow in the fall followed by one pass in the spring to prepare the seedbed for planting.
    • Strip tillage on 30-inch centers in the fall.
    • Vertical tillage in the fall. 
  • The experiment was replicated five times. 

  • Results were combined with the previous two years of data to produce a three-year average.

UNDERSTANDING THE RESULTS

  • In 2019, the conventionally-tilled plots underperformed compared to vertical tillage and strip tillage by 8.4 bu/acre and 2.8 bu/acre, respectively. These results were similar to previous years at the Learning Center (Figure 1).

KEY LEARNINGS

  • Although the results were not substantially different, the tendency at the Monmouth Learning Center has been for conventional tillage to underperform compared to reduced tillage practices.

    • This may be a result of multiple factors such as improved soil structure in reduced tillage fields or better water conservation.
  • Reduced tillage practices may provide additional benefits besides yield, such as:

    • Reduced soil erosion 
    • Reduced nutrient loss
    • Reduced fuel costs
  • Factors such as weather, soil type, or field topography may influence results.  Consult your local Field Sales Representative or Technical Agronomist for recommendations for your farm.

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