However, tillage in general needs to be the last management option considered for improving soil tilth and productivity. There are alternatives that are equally as effective as conventional tillage. Site-specific conditions, soil-quality consideration, water-quality consideration and economics of tillage need to be included in the decision whether to till.

 

Over the past 10 years, long-term tillage studies conducted across Iowa on five tillage systems and three crop rotations show a wide range of yield responses in corn and soybean for different regions in Iowa. These differences in yields reflect various soil and climate conditions across the state. The purpose was to document the most effective tillage and crop rotation combination for each region. The main findings of this research so far are that soybean yields after corn shows no significant difference between tillage systems. In fact soybean in no-till preformed as good or better than any tillage system (chisel plow, strip-tillage, deep ripping and moldboard plow). The choice of tillage for corn is more complex, but as noted above, careful consideration should be given to soil’s long-term health and productivity as decisions are made.