Study Shows Yield Increase with No-Till and Strip-Till

Reduced tillage doesn't have to cost in yield. ( Darrell Smith )

By Tracy Morley

With the ongoing debate of tillage versus soil conservation methods, farmers have had to weigh whether they’d rather achieve a higher yield or practice good land management. However, according to a recent study conducted by Purdue University, they may be able to do both. The study, conducted in West Lafayette, shows corn yields with no-till surpassed the chisel plow yields, while strip-till yields were better than both chisel plow and no-till when corn followed corn, and about equal to no-till when corn followed soybeans.

According to Tony Vyn, Agronomy Department, Purdue University, “Strip-till corn yields typically equal those with the fall disk-chisel system, but they surpassed the chisel system by 18.5 bushels per acre when corn followed corn. Additionally, the study highlighted the benefits of rotating corn with soybeans as corn yields averaged 17 percent lower when corn was grown continuously.”

Though it may be a different way to think about yields in relation to tillage, adopting a new way may result in the most optimum outcome.

 “These results make it abundantly clear that even 40 years of continuous no-till do not magically result in more available mineral N in soil for corn to use. It is doubtful that farmers can be successful in no-till corn production systems by using lower N rates than they do in conventional tillage systems, and certainly not when corn follows corn or a grass or cereal cover crop” says Vyn.

There’s no precise formula for adapting this method because no two farmers, or farms, are alike, but the results from the Purdue study are, without a doubt, promising, thought provoking and worth further investigation.