Soybean School: Lessons learned from 2020 spring tillage


When it comes to planting soybeans, is spring tillage necessary? Can no-till soybeans handle the challenge that a cool, wet spring and heavy corn residue can throw at them?

With 2020 in the books, it’s time to dig into some harvest data and find some answers to these questions. On this episode of Soybean School, Deveron data insights group manager Aaron Breimer takes a look at trials his grower clients conducted, to compare no-till and spring tillage yields in soybeans.

After a long, drawn out 2019 Ontario harvest, many farmers had little opportunity for fall tillage to manage corn residue and kickstart soil warming for spring 2020. That meant many growers opted to roll out their tillage implements this spring, and wrestle with that residue prior to planting.

To get a better handle on how 2020 spring tillage decisions impacted yield, Breimer, a big no-till proponent and fan of reduced tillage, crunched data on six trials that compared soybean yields in no-till, versus fields that were tilled using a high-speed disc.

Breimer admits to being surprised by the results. Overall, the average yield advantage for the speed disc was 6.2 bu/ac with the advantage reaching as high 14 bushels on one of the farms. He says given the fall conditions, he expected tillage to win most of the 2020 trials “by a couple of bushels” but the margins of difference were “shocking.” (Story continues after the video.)

In the video, Breimer looks at the evolution of reduced tillage technology and the significant impact compaction can have on yields. He admits to not being a fan of “new vertical tillage” but the trial results certainly support the idea that the negative yield impact from planting into cool, wet soils and excessive residue is greater than the yield impact of compaction caused by spring tillage.

Breimer also discusses ‘tickle tillage’ options including Phoenix harrows.

Click here for more Soybean School episodes.

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