Thursday, June 11, 2009

No-Till Planting Improves Soil

Some fields are planted into last year's stubble. This process is called no-till planting. Leaving the stubble is beneficial for many reasons. The roots keep the soil from blowing or washing away, and the decomposing stubble becomes organic matter to feed the soil. Healthier soil leads to healthier crops, and our goal of higher yields.

Above: Bill is planting Round-Up Ready soybeans into corn stubble. The beans are planted between the rows of corn stalks (click on the image to enlarge it and see greater detail.)
Though there are green weeds growing in the field, once the beans have been planted, the field will be sprayed with Round-Up to take care of that problem.
No-till planting is especially important on this field. The soil is sandy and blows easily.

Above: The planter's marker is partially folded. There is a marker on each side of the planter. Usually, the marker is extended out from the planter and rolling through the ground, creating a cut, or mark. Because Bill is on his last round, he does not use markers.

Above: The furrow in the ground is made by the planter's marker. The line from the last round's marker is the center of the next round's planting. When planting no-till, the farmer tries to place his marker in the middle of the space between existing stubble rows ensuring the soybeans will grow in the space that was bare last season.
By harvest, most of the corn stubble will have naturally decomposed.
Straight, even rows have been a point of pride on farms since the first plow turned the sod.

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