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"Once again this year, there’s very little yield advantage for conventional tillage,” says Purdue cropping systems Extension specialist Tony Vyn. “Minimum-till or no-till systems can save farmers more than $20/acre in equipment maintenance, fuel and labor.
“But the complete savings are realized when considering future soil productivity. Full tillage and subsequent soil loss can quickly lead to negative long-term productivity," Vyn says.
“Spring strip-till can also be a viable option after wet falls. Wait until soil conditions 4-5 in. deep allow you to strip-till without creating large clods of soil that may become excessively hard,” Vyn says. “Don’t strip-till very deeply (6 in.) in spring, and use rolling baskets and plant promptly to reduce risks of excessive seed-zone moisture loss.”
No-till soybeans and corn in rotation with soybeans continue to perform as well as conventional-tillage options, Vyn says.
“Here in Indiana, some growers are considering twin-row strip-tillage, which involves strip-tilling (for instance, between former corn rows), followed by planting soybean rows 7-8 in. apart near the center of the strip. The soybeans can form an earlier canopy cover,” Vyn says.
"Before making any tillage decisions, consider an accurate total cost. We've noticed very little yield gain from conventional tillage, so typically the expenditure isn't worth it,” Vyn says. “However, strip-till helps farmers gain additional planting days compared to no-till, and that’s even more important when corn follows corn.”