Submitted to: Applied Engineering in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/2/2005
Publication Date: 1/1/2006
Citation: Siemens, M.C. and D.E. Wilkins. 2006. Effect of residue management methods on no-till drill performance. Applied Engineering in Agriculture 22(1):51-60.
Interpretive Summary: Crop residue on the soil surface makes uniform seedling establishment difficult in conservation tillage systems. In heavy crop residue, hoe-type no-till drills tend to rake the residue and cause drill plugging, causing operator frustration and reducing productivity. They also tend to cause large clumps of residue to form, which cover the seed row and choke out young seedlings. To address this issue, various methods of mechanically manipulating crop residue during and post harvest were investigated to determine if any of these methods would help improve no-till drill performance. Residue management methods evaluated included leaving tall standing stubble, chopping the residue into pieces of varying lengths, using chaff and straw spreader and choppers, disking, and removing the residue by baling. Results of the study showed that residue management method can affect no-till drill stand establishment and crop yield by as much as 58 percent and 18 percent respectively. The study also showed that adequate stand establishment, plant growth and yield in direct seeded, annual crop winter and spring wheat can be obtained in heavy residue when the straw and chaff are spread uniformly and chopped into small (<15 cm) pieces. Implementing the successful equipment selection and residue management techniques found in this study will help increase the profitability and therefore adoption of soil and water conservation farming practices.
Technical Abstract: Excessive crop residue on the soil surface impedes drill performance and subsequent crop production in conservation tillage systems. To address this issue, ten different residue management strategies were evaluated to determine their effect on no-till drill performance in terms of seedling establishment, early plant vigor and crop yield. Field conditions were characterized by size, concentration and distribution of residue. Residue management strategies included leaving tall standing stubble, using various chopping and spreading devices and removing the residue by baling. Experiments were conducted in northeastern Oregon fields that had been previously seeded to winter wheat and produced 9.8 t/ha and 10.5 t/ha of residue in 2000 and 2001 respectively. Winter and spring wheat plots were seeded with a hoe-type no-till drill. For the residue management methods used in this study, stand establishment and seedling weight were reduced 20 to 58 percent and 22 to 46 percent respectively when the full quantity of residue was left on the soil surface as compared to those where the residue concentration was reduced by baling. Seeding into high concentrations of residue left by non-uniform residue distribution systems also caused reductions in stand establishment and early plant growth. Long standing stubble and high concentrations of loose straw greater than 18 cm in length caused unacceptable drill plugging. Successful drill operation was achieved in crop residues exceeding 9.8 t/ha when stubble height was less than or equal to row spacing and the majority of cut straw was cut into pieces less than 18 cm long. Although consistent yield differences were not found, the results of this study showed that residue concentration and size have an important influence on no-till crop yield potential and drill operation.