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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Reducing Draft Requirements and Maintaining Crop Yields with Site-Specific Tilage

Authors
item Donoghue, Ann
item Reeves, Donald
item Shaw, Joey - AUBURN UNIVERSITY
item Van Santen, Edzard - AUBURN UNIVERSITY
item Mask, Paul - AUBURN UNIVERSITY
item Grift, Tony - UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS

Research conducted cooperatively with:
item Deere And Company

Submitted to: International Soil Tillage Research Organization Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: July 14, 2003
Publication Date: July 14, 2003
Citation: Raper, R.L., Reeves, D.W., Shaw, J.N., Van Santen, E., Mask, P.L., Grift, T.E. 2003. Reducing draft requirements and maintaining crop yields with site-specific tilage. In: Proceedings of the 16th International Soil Tillage Research Organization Proceedings (ISTRO) Conference. July 13-18, 2003,Brisbane, Australia. p. 961-965.

Interpretive Summary: Soil compaction plagues many producers in the United States, particularly in the Southeast. Annual in-row tillage is necessary for many producers to alleviate their soil compaction problems and allow their plant roots to penetrate to depths sufficient to withstand short summer droughts. However, the cost of this annual tillage can be expensive. An experiment was conducted to determine if supplying tillage to the exact depth of compaction would maintain crop yields while reducing tillage costs. Results showed that site-specific tillage maintained corn yields while significantly reducing tillage power requirements and fuel costs. Improvements in technology necessary to map fields for soil compaction as well as development of implements that can adjust their tillage depth on-the-go should enable this concept to contribute to producing a more energy efficient food production system.

Technical Abstract: Deep tillage is often required to alleviate soil compaction, however subsoiling can be an expensive and time-consuming tillage event. If this tillage operation is conducted deeper than the compacted soil layer, energy is wasted. On the other hand, if this tillage operation is conducted shallower than the compacted soil layer, energy is again wasted and plant roots will also not be able to penetrate the compacted layer. Technologies are now available which allow tillage to be conducted at the specific depth of the compacted layer. Natural resources should be able to be conserved without sacrificing crop yields. An experiment was conducted to evaluate the concept of site-specific tillage in a field in Southern Alabama in the United States for three years to evaluate whether the concept of site-specific tillage (tilling just deep enough to eliminate the hardpan layer) would reduce tillage energy requirements and/or reduce crop yields. Average corn (Zea mays L.) yields over this three-year period showed that site-specific tillage produced yields equivalent to those produced by the uniform deep tillage treatment while requiring 25% less tillage fuel.

Last Modified: 7/22/2014
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