Tillage Trials

Published Feb 2, 1990

Three cooperators compared different tillage systems in 1989. Each trial involved ridge tillage in some way. Table 5 shows the data. Todd Hartsock found similar yields in ridge-till and conventional corn. Ron Rosmann obtained significantly higher soybean yields in ridge-till, but stalk chopping and a preplant cultivation pass reduced the relative profitability of the ridge-till crop. Dick Thompson grew corn following meadow in strips that were moldboard plowed in the spring and in strips that had been disked and ridged the previous fall. The spring-plowed strips outyielded the others by a significant margin.

An interesting component of the Rosmann tillage comparison is the effect of the treatments on weeds. The study confirms that where herbicides are not used, the potential for most weeds is higher in conventional tillage than in ridge-till. The bar graph in Figure 5 compares per-acre rates of different broadleafed weeds in the two systems. Ridge-till was effective in controlling late-germinating plants like velvetleaf and pigweed. Ridge-till’s problem weeds are the early ones, such as lambsquarter, which are already established by planting time.