Planting photo

Editor’s note: The following was written by Mark Licht, Extension cropping systems specialist with Iowa State University, for the Extension Integrated Crop Management blog Sept. 1.

Save money and time this fall by planning for no-till soybean planting next spring.

Soybean yields are not impacted by no-tilling. There is no need to spend labor and fuel incorporating the corn residue. Moving to a no-till system can save $15 to $25 per acre in reduced tillage costs.

Additionally, spring tillage operations are not effective for breaking soil compaction.

In fact, the opposite happens in normal spring conditions when soil moisture is plentiful. Spring tillage in wetter conditions leads to smearing soil with the tillage knives or sweeps and disking creates a compaction layer while sizing residue.

One of the most important aspects of no-till planting is to ensure the proper function of the planter. Any planter purchased in the last 10 to 20 years can plant soybean seeds into corn residue, especially if the planter has row cleaners and has been properly maintained. Nearly all planters can ensure appropriate down pressure and seed depth placement.

Using your combine to prepare your residue for spring can help create a uniform seedbed for planting the following season. Non-uniform spreading of corn residue across the harvest width results in uneven warming and drying of the soil.

It can also affect planter performance as the planter moves from areas with higher to lower residue amounts.

Other considerations:

  • Wait for correct soil conditions to plant soybean.
  • Start small and check planter performance often to gain confidence.
  • Use row cleaners to move residue but not make a trench.