Durham Region Soil & Crop Improvement Association 2004 Major Grant
Prepared By: Steve Carruthers CCA-ON , Amara Agronomics
PURPOSE OF TRIALS
To investigate the benefits and best uses of the new secondary tillage tools that provide vertical tillage
using notill style coulters mounted on a frame similar to a cultivator.
The commercial units on the market presently are the:
SALFORD RTS (residue tillage specialist)
GREAT PLAINS – Turbo Till unit
|Hub International had a SALFORD RTS unit available for
Durham Soil & Crop members to demonstrate and experiment with under various cropping systems
varying from notill to final conventional tillage passes.
President Rick with
The four key situations most people were dealing with were:
1. Using the RTS unit to open up very wet soil conditions we experienced this spring due to excessive rains.
2. Using the RTS for secondary tillage programs with high corn residue situations where it was difficult
to cultivate without plugging.
3. Planting corn on corn where no fall tillage was done.
4. Using as light tillage pass before notilling soybeans
OBSERVATIONS & COMMENTS FROM PARTICIPANTS
1. USING THE COULTER UNIT FOR OPENING UP WET SOILS
Theory behind the vertical tillage from the coulters is you are slicing vertically through the soil creating
a lifting and shattering effect of the soil profile.
This system doesn’t create a horizontal smeared layer we create with cultivator sweeps when cultivating under
wet conditions. This horizontal layer of denser soil is harder for roots to penetrate.
For these wet conditions the machine worked very well allowing a tillage pass under wetter conditions than
you would normally want to cultivate. A pass with the RTS unit followed by 6 – 24 hours of drying time
before a second pass with a conventional cultivator provided a very good seed bed to plant corn.
2. USING COULTER UNIT FOR HIGH RESIDUE SITUATIONS
These units excel in high residue conditions. No problems going directly into standing corn stubble as the
first tillage pass.
The machine also worked excellent where corn stalks had been soil saved or off-set disced the previous fall.
With high yields & tougher Bt corn residues spring cultivation sometimes is difficult without plugging
using conventional cultivators.
3. CORN ON CORN WITH NO OTHER TILLAGE
For this program people are using the Coulter machines once on the corn stalks in the fall, followed by one
pass with the Coulter unit in the spring. Corn is then planted between the still visible previous years
corn rows with corn planter equipped with trash whippers.
Youngfield Farms, Nestleton ON has been using this system for two years with their GREAT PLAINS TURBO TILL
unit. They have found as good as or better yields with corn after corn using this system compared to their
previous program of fall soil saving followed with a spring cultivation.
This system has created better machine efficiency (more acres/hour, less fuel consumption) as well as better
soil conservation with less erosion compared to the Soil Saver program.
4. TILLAGE PASS BEFORE NOTILL SOYBEANS
Producers have been experimenting to see if a pass with the Coulter units would improve yields in a notill
Results have varied in this situation and further trials need to be done. In this area the trials that were
done @ Alsar Farms, Claremont & Cedardale Farms, Nestleton no yield advantage was seen.
Both trials were conducted on well drained, good rotation & well managed soils.
In western Ontario there was some significant yield improvements seen, particularly on wetter heavier soil
ALSAR FARMS, Claremont
2004 Crop: Soybeans notilled into standing corn stalks with a JD 750 Drill
Plot: Salford RTS unit was used single pass before drilling beans. Two plots were done, 1 with the RTS set
shallow , the other with the RTS set deep.
PLOT # 1 Salford RTS set shallow
RTS Tillage Strip - shallow|| 54.5 Bushels / acre|
|Notill Strip|| 54.0 Bushels / acre
PLOT # 2 Salford RTS set deep
RTS Tillage Strip - deep|| 52.0 Bushels / acre|
|Notill Strip|| 52.5 Bushels / acre|
Conclusion: On this systematically drained good structured soil there was no advantage to the tillage pass.
YOUNFIELD FARMS, Nestleton
Pioneer 38G17 Corn planted May 12, 2004
Plots planted in the same field with different crop the previous year
PLOT # 1, 10 acres
1 spring cultivation
147.4 Bushels / acre
PLOT # 2, 10 acres
1 pass in fall with GP Turbo Till1 pass in spring with GP Turbo Till
||152.2 Bushels / acre
|| 28.1 %
Conclusions: Normally we would expect a yield advantage for the plot having corn following soybeans.
This plot demonstrates that corn yields for the corn after corn using the Turbo Till unit did not suffer
any yield lost compared to the more conventional tillage & rotation used on the corn following soybean
2003 TILLAGE TRIAL, MONSANTO CENTRE of EXCELLENCE
Neil Hannah’s, Port Hope
Spring Strip Till
|No-Till Only ||DEKALB||DKC39-46||18||565||4300.0||3.7
|SALFORD RTS ||DEKALB||DKC39-46||8||565||1950.0||15.3
|Spring Aerway ||DEKALB||DKC39-46|| 16||565||3900.020.6
|Aerway + Strip Till ||DEKALB||DKC39-46||6||565||1690.0
These new Coulter type tillage tools appear to have a very useful place in variety of tillage programs.
Further trials are warranted for 2005.
These tools will provide producers with new options for their cropping program.
There is two reasons these tools will not replace the cultivator on most farms:
1. WEED CONTROL
These units don’t shear off weed roots like cultivator sweeps. Winter annuals, dandelions and even emerge
annual weeds will survive these tillage passes and will need to be removed with additional cultivation or
2. SOIL LEVELLING
With the heavy spring tine harrows and the rolling baskets these machine leave an ideally smooth seed bed
if it was already level before the tillage pass.
If dealing with deeper impressions on the soil surface such as Soil Saver ridges and valleys, disc ridges
or dead furrows the units don’t move enough soil in a horizontal motion to level uneven soil surfaces.
The long term economic success of these units will be if producers can replace traditional primary tillage
such as the Soil Saver and the Off-Set Disc with a fall tillage pass followed with a spring tillage pass
with these new Coulter type units.
Durham Region Soil & Crop Assoc. 2004