Conservation Tillage Systems in the Southeast

Summary

Overview
  • When rolling/crimping without supplemental herbicide, terminate the cover crop at the optimal growth stage and at least three weeks before cash crop planting.
  • If weather in the spring is wet or cold, and cover crop termination is delayed, herbicide application is recommended to speed up termination.
  • Application rates less than label rate are effective in terminating a cover crop if combined with rolling/crimping. Equipment can be modified to apply herbicide while rolling/crimping to save fuel and time.
  • Roll/crimp cover crops parallel to the cash crop row. This minimizes or eliminates residue buildup on planting equipment. Diagonal and perpendicular rolling are not recommended because of increased residue buildup, increased planting time due to frequent residue removal stops, and decreased planting quality, such as skips in planting, “hairpinning” and slow emergence.
  • Non-inversion tillage (subsoiling) is sometimes needed in the spring to alleviate soil compaction before planting of the cash crop. This operation is important to provide the best soil conditions for optimal seed emergence of the cash crop.
  • No-till planters must be properly adjusted to assure a uniform seed planting depth and to minimize or eliminate residue buildup on the planting units. The adjustments are dependent on field conditions including soil moisture and the amount of residue on the soil surface.
  • Set coulters as far ahead of the shank as possible so they are not cutting on soil disrupted by the shank. Keep coulters sharp so they can cut through residue.
  • Row cleaners must not dig into the soil and should only brush residue away from the furrow. Setting row cleaners too deep will result in soil-surface disruption and residue accumulation on the row cleaners.
  • Closing wheels optimize seed-to-soil contact. Spoked closing wheels must have an appropriate down-pressure setting to obtain adequate seed-to-soil contact and to provide necessary soil aeration without creating sidewall compaction. In addition to closing wheels, seed firmers are also utilized to improve seed-to-soil contact if needed.
  • No-till vegetable transplanting involves cutting into residue using a transplanter equipped with a coulter with or without row cleaners. When compaction is a problem, modify the transplanter by adding a subsoiler shank that reaches below the compacted layer.

Download the tables from Chapter 9.

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