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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Crop Yield and Soil Condition under Ridge and Chisel-Plot Tillage in the Northern Corn Belt, Usa

Authors
item Pikul Jr, Joseph
item Carpenter Boggs, Lynne
item Vigil, Merle
item Schumacher, Thomas - SOUTH DAKOTA STATE UNIV
item Lindstrom, Michael
item Riedell, Walter

Submitted to: Soil & Tillage Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 3, 2001
Publication Date: June 1, 2001
Citation: Pikul Jr, J.L., Carpenter Boggs, L.A., Vigil, M.F., Schumacher, T.E., Lindstrom, M.J., Riedell, W.E. 2001. Crop yield and soil condition under ridge and chisel-plot tillage in the northern Corn Belt, USA. Soil & Tillage Research 60:21-33.

Interpretive Summary: Corn-soybean production in the northern Corn Belt of the United States can be difficult because of cool and wet conditions. Some tillage may be desirable to accelerate soil drying and warming and to reduce chemical input for weed control. Our study has shown no differences in soybean yield between ridge tillage and chisel tillage. Corn yield, averaged over nine years, was 4 bu/acre greater on chisel tillage compared with ridge tillage. There has been little difference in nitrogen use, water use, or soil nitrate accumulation between the two tillage systems. In dry years, ridge tillage boosted soybean grain yield over plots that were chisel plowed. We attributed improved soybean yield on ridge tillage during dry years to early stand establishment compared to chisel tillage treatments. Ridge tillage can protect soil from erosion because crop residues remain undisturbed on the soil surface in contrast to conventional tillage where residue was incorporated. Soil organic carbon on ridge tillage plots was 34 percent greater than chisel tillage. The increase of soil organic carbon on ridge tillage has occurred during a period of nine years and we equate this gain of soil organic carbon to soil improvement. Ridge tillage has improved soil quality without a large decline in grain production.

Technical Abstract: Ridge tillage is a special conservation tillage method, but the long- term effects of this tillage system on crop yield and soil quality in a corn (Zea mays L.) and soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] rotation are largely unknown in the northern Corn Belt. Objectives were to compare crop performance and soil condition at three nitrogen-fertilizer levels with ridge tillage (RP) and conventional tillage (CT). Conventional tillage included moldboard or chisel plowing, seedbed preparation with tandem disk and field cultivator, and row cultivation. Raised beds on RP plots were maintained using only row cultivation. Corn grain yield was greater with CT than with RP in only 2 of 10 years. Average corn yield was 6190 kg/ha with RP and 6430 kg/ha with CT. Soybean grain yield was significantly greater with RP than with CT in only 1 of 10 years. Average soybean yield was 1990 kg/ha with RP and 2050 kg/ha with CT. In 9 of 10 years there was a significant soybean-yield response to N starter fertilizer. There was no significant accumulation of nitrate-N in the top 3 m of soil due to either tillage treatment. Soil organic C on RP plots was 34 percent greater than on CT plots. Results show that RP can improve soil quality without a large decline in grain production.

Last Modified: 11/26/2014
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