One of the many things producers need to do in spring is to start preparing their soil for planting. One of the ways to do that is with spring tillage.
“To properly prep soil in the spring, growers need to look at several factors,” said Justin Render, product specialist with Kinze Manufacturing. “These include drainage, topsoil depth, organic matter and texture.”
Render suggests soil testing as the first step of making a soil management plan. Other questions to answer in the overall approach include residue management and a fertilizer program.
“Make spring tillage for fertilizer management,” he said. “It is also good for leveling ground from grazing, fixing ruts and preparing for seed.”
Spring tillage is not good for dealing with compaction, especially deep compaction. Deep compaction is anything deeper than primary tillage depth (6 to 8 inches), Render said. He suggests surface compaction be dealt with by cover crops and mechanically in the fall.
“Trying to improve compaction at this time of year could be more harmful than helpful,” he said. “Disrupting the soil to such a depth could lead to moisture moving below the root zone.”
In the spring, tillage is all about timing. Patience is indeed a virtue when contemplating tilling this time of year. Growers don’t want to start too early, he said.
“Squeeze a handful of soil,” Render said. “Did it leave moisture in your hand? It’s still too wet.”
When the time is right, farmers will want to take advantage of windows of good weather. Render suggests utilizing the new Mach Till hybrid tillage line from Kinze.
“It’s a great land leveler and can be used at higher speeds,” he said. “Growers can till 20 to 60 acres per hour.”
The Kinze hybrid uses a horizontal approach instead of a vertical. It combines the benefits of traditional disks with soil-finishing capabilities into one implement. It cuts and throws soil at an angle. This avoids smears and compaction layers, he said.
There are several different size models, ranging from 20 feet to 41 feet, he said. They can be used effectively in the spring and the fall.
“Whichever tools you use, have a safe and productive spring,” Render said. “Get your crops in the ground.”