Soybean School: Tackling corn residue with pre-plant tillage

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When planting soybeans after corn does the oilseed benefit from pre-plant tillage?

A little spring tillage certainly enhances yield, says Horst Bohner, soybean specialist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). Based on accumulated OMAFRA trial data, growers can expect plant stands to be 10 per cent higher and fields to yield an extra two bushels per acre at harvest.

On this episode of RealAgriculture’s Soybean School, Bohner takes a look at a side-by-side comparison of soybeans planted into pre-till and no-till conditions. One of the big challenges growers face when following corn with soybeans is residue management. When stalks accumulate they create “weak spots” in fields where the stand is compromised, notes Bohner.

Spring tillage can help chop and spread residue and also eliminate corn rows that pose problems when planters ride too close to the root remains of last year’s crop. “In those areas, a little bit of tillage really seems to shine,” he says.  Tillage also warms the soil to enhance emergence and helps the combine do a better job.

But growers have to be careful to work the ground only when it’s fit, adds Bohner. Running a tillage implement in the spring over wet field conditions is rife with peril; potentially creating a yield-robbing compaction layer that can reduce yields by as much as five bushels per acre.

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