The great corn stalk challenge: what’s your solution?

Corn stalks have become a significant management challenge for many growers. Better corn hybrids, higher yields, bigger plants, and fewer corn borers to break down stalks mean more farmers are turning to tillage to tackle crop residue.

At Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show (COFS), a host of tillage manufacturers and retailers took to a harvested corn field to demonstrate that there really is something for everyone when it comes tillage choices.

The machinery companies said, “Just give us the corn stalks and we’ll show you how to handle them,” says agronomist Pat Lynch, who co-ordinated and moderated the demonstration. Lynch notes that depending on planting systems, not every farmer wants the same amount of residue cover. Some farmers may prefer to do a second tillage pass in the spring while others may want to just hit the field in the spring with a no-till planter.

“Farmers have a definite opinion, based on their experience, of how much residue they really want,” says Lynch. He notes that farmers realize when they do something to break down corn stalks they get higher yields the following year. “We all love no-till and all the benefits, but in some cases we’ve got to get that yield and we’ve got to get it economically.”

In this video, Lynch explains how the field demonstrations give farmers an opportunity to compare different tillage implements and identify what could work in their management system. “As farmers walked across here, they could take a look at the different amount of residue cover and how the soil was left following the different pieces of equipment,” says Lynch. He adds that the COFS demo illustrates the tremendous range of tillage and field finish choices – some fields looked like they hadn’t been touched while others likely exposed too much brown dirt for some farmers.

Lynch also discusses the growing importance of incorporating nutrients – manure, fertilizer, biosolids – and the increasing role tillage will have in nutrient management.

Click here for more COFS coverage.


Bernard Tobin

Bernard Tobin is Real Agriculture's Ontario Field Editor. AgBern was raised on a dairy farm near St. John's, Newfoundland. For the past two decades, he has specialized in agricultural communications. A Ryerson University journalism grad, he kicked off his career with a seven-year stint as Managing Editor and Field Editor for Farm and Country magazine. He has received six Canadian Farm Writers' Federation awards for journalism excellence. He's also worked for two of Canada's leading agricultural communications firms, providing public relations, branding and strategic marketing. Bern also works for Guelph-based Synthesis Agri-Food Network and talks the Real Dirt on Farming.


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