Wheat Pete’s Word, Dec 17: Unearthing the Hidden Costs of Tillage


This week’s Word focuses on tillage, tillage, and (no more!) tillage. Peter Johnson, resident agronomist for RealAgriculture and host of this weekly podcast, discusses the hidden costs of the practice, strip tillage in edibles and more. But the discussion hits other topics as well, as Johnson answers questions around oats and spring cereal performance trials.

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Highlights:

  • Some awesome comments and questions. Send more feedback!
  • Spring cereal performance trials are available for 2015.
  • We’ve lost genetic resistance to crown rust in oats, and though newer varieties have tolerance they are not resistant. Some recommendations on locations where fungicide should be applied.
  • Tillage – Why do it? Compaction on tilled soil is higher than on unworked land. Simple economic analysis don’t take into account the impact of tillage erosion. In research trials where scientists took top soil from hollows and moved it up, they automatically improved yields by 30bu/ac. Plus, no-till systems with rotations see a 30-40lb nitrogen credit over the long term. But Johnson, why does tillage work in the garden then?
  • Strip tillage – Why do soybean yields increase with tillage? Are 20? rows too expensive? Why do I have ‘chunky’ strips? Should I strip-till edibles?
  • There will be no Word between Christmas and New Year’s. Take the time to focus on the holidays and “go visit someone who you haven’t seen in the last twenty years!”

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