Some areas of the country will have record-high yields this fall because of favorable growing conditions. New tougher hybrids and increased population are making crop residue more difficult to manage. Although tillage might not be necessary in all fields, consider some best practices if you plan to till this fall, said Tim Nix, Tillage Marketing Manager, Case IH.

Before you begin, check your equipment to ensure it is properly greased and all parts are in good shape. Then determine your needs based on field conditions and other fall field work. Other tips Nix recommends:

  • Manage the residue. With tougher crop residue in recent years from new hybrids, it is important to size and bury it in the soil so it can begin breaking down over the winter. A vertical tillage tool is fast and efficient for managing residue and leveling the soil.
  • Check for and remove compaction layers. A highly compacted soil layer between 8 and 12 inches below the surface is common and will limit root growth, water infiltration and, most important, yield potential in next year’s crop. Check for such a layer by digging a hole about the size of a 5-gallon bucket. Stick a knife blade about ½ inch into the wall, running it down from the top and up from the bottom until you feel a denser layer. Consider removing it by running a ripper with tiger points 1 inch below the layer.
  • Incorporate fertilizer in a tillage pass. Don’t leave fertilizer on the field surface where it could run off or be unavailable to next year’s crop. Make your tillage pass after fertilizer is spread so it works into the soil.
  • Save time and make a single pass. Use a machine that handles most of your fall fieldwork in one pass. Combination tools incorporate fertilizer and manage crop residue and compaction with a level output, which makes seed bed preparation easier the following spring.
  • Hit the window. Don’t let weather ruin your fall plans. Use a machine that allows a wider operating window and has a proven track record in adverse conditions.