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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Using Site-Specific Subsoiling to Minimize Draft and Optimize Corn Yields

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

Research conducted cooperatively with:
item Deere And Company

Submitted to: Transactions of the ASAE
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 2, 2005
Publication Date: January 4, 2006
Citation: Raper, R.L., Reeves, D.W., Shaw, J.N., Van Santen, E., Mask, P. 2006. Using site-specific subsoiling to minimize draft and optimize corn yields. Transactions of the ASAE. 48(6):2047-2052.

Interpretive Summary: Many soils in the United States suffer from excessive soil compaction and have to be annually tilled to eliminate these deep compacted layers. New spatial technologies may allow some fuel used for tillage to be saved while producing optimal yields. An experiment was performed for four years to compare site-specific subsoiling to uniform deep subsoiling on corn response and energy requirements for tillage. Prior to subsoiling, the soils were mapped to determine the depth of the compacted layer and the site-specific subsoiling treatments supplied tillage to the correct depth without going too deep or too shallow. Results from these experiments showed that similar corn yields were produced with site-specific subsoiling while reducing fuel requirements by 24 or 43%. Use of this technology may offer growers the opportunity to reduce their inputs while maintaining excellent yields and protecting the environment.

Technical Abstract: Subsoiling is often required to alleviate soil compaction, however deep tillage can be expensive and time-consuming. If this tillage operation is conducted deeper than the compacted soil layer, energy is wasted. However, if this tillage operation is conducted shallower than the compacted soil layer, energy is again wasted potentially not allowing plant roots to penetrate the compacted layer. Technologies are now available which allow subsoiling to be conducted at the specific depth of the compacted layer which would conserve natural resources without sacrificing crop yields. An experiment was conducted to evaluate the concept of site-specific subsoiling in a field located in Southern Alabama over four years to evaluate whether the concept of site-specific subsoiling (tilling just deep enough to eliminate the hardpan layer) would reduce tillage draft and energy requirements and/or reduce crop yields. Average corn (Zea mays L.) yields over this four-year period showed that site-specific subsoiling produced yields equivalent to those produced by the uniform deep subsoiling treatment while reducing draft forces, drawbar power, and fuel use.

Last Modified: 4/20/2014
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