By Josh Peterson, Agronomy Manager
Ever had a situation that you thought was unfortunate, only to find out later it may have been a blessing? If one of your concerns this spring is fall tillage, or more specifically, the lack of fall tillage, be patient. It may turn into a blessing.
We’re all aware that cash flows—especially for soybeans—don’t look good. That has led many of us to look for ways to cut expenses, which is tough to do without cutting yield. When it comes to soybeans, however, machinery cost (tillage) is one area that can be cut without sacrificing yields. In fact, you may want to consider skipping that tillage you couldn’t get done last fall on your bean acres and taking a hard look at no-till.
Research and experience have shown that tillage has relatively little impact on soybean yields. In many situations, yields from no-tilled soybeans are equal to or better than those from conventionally tilled fields.
Here are some numbers to consider:
Add that up, and you have $27-$30 in machine expense. It’s highly unlikely you’re going to lose 3 bushels of yield by skipping tillage, so with $9 beans you’re going to come out ahead. Plus, the wetter-than-normal weather pattern we are experiencing will likely change. If it turns hot and dry, skipping some tillage passes will definitely conserve moisture.
If this is the year to go no-till, remember that the First Commandment of no-tilling is, “Thou shall burn down.” Getting a good burndown and piggybacking a pre-emerge product is the best way to get those beans off to a good start. Keep in mind, however, that fields that are properly drained will have more success with no-till than those that are poorly drained and never dry out. If you’ve got questions, we’ll be happy to answer them.
It could be that Mother Nature was actually looking out for us by not allowing us to get our fall tillage in.
Let’s look forward to a profitable 2019.
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