Consistency is extremely important in all aspects of the farming operation: emergence, seed spacing, chemical application, corn head/platform operation, and chaff distribution.
That goal is not to be lost in strip-till residue management.
The biggest challenge is in high-yielding corn-on-corn acres. And with these acres on the rise, it is very important producers understand what goes into successfully managing residue.
In theory, the crop would be standing perfectly at harvest, and the combine would aggressively and evenly distribute residue across each and every field, which would virtually eliminate the need for adjustments to be made to the strip-till unit.
In reality, this is not always the case as down crops, worn combine parts, and varying moisture levels in the residue all play a role from field to field.
This creates a challenge to consistently manage residue in a strip-till application, because inconsistencies in the residue lead to inconsistent seedbeds, planter performance, plant stands, and eventually yields.
What does it take to manage residue?
Creating a strip that is free of residue is the first step in seedbed preparation. Producers know the challenge of slicing a thick mat of soybean residue one day, moist cornstalks the next day, and then moving into dry residue the following day. Producers must have:
Properly adjusted and operated combine
Large front-cutting coulter has more cutting edge than a smaller one to grab, trap, and cut residue. Dry residue has to be managed differently than wet residue—coulters usually need to be set shallower to grab and cut the fluffy stalks. Wetter stalks may require the coulters to be set deeper to chase that stalk down into the soil and prevent hairpinning. If stalks are not cut properly, residue that is not sized can cause plugging in the components on the rear of the machine and create difficulties for the row cleaners.
Deep frame to allow enough clearance for the residue to settle down before it gets to the row cleaners. Field cultivators today have much deeper frames than 10 and 20 years ago for one simple reason: better residue flow.
Large, aggressive, adjustable row cleaners. Residue that is not moved out of the row can get wrapped around the nutrient shank and mixed into the seedbed, causing inconsistencies in seed placement and emergence. Row cleaners that are set too deep and constantly gouging the ground throw too much soil in between the strips.
Consistent residue management is achieved through proper adjustments of heavy-duty components.
See the ground-engaging and frame sections of the sales manual for more details on the key components to managing residue.