Agronomy Library > Soil Conservation

Residue Management Strategies for Direct Seeding - Direct Seeding Advantage 2003
Author: Mark C. Siemens - USDA-ARS, Columbia Plateau Conservation Research Center
Date Created: November 18, 2003
Last Reviewed: November 18, 2003

In the agricultural regions of the Pacific Northwest (PNW), adoption of reduced tillage systems lags that of the United States as a whole. The limited adoption of this practice in the PNW is due not only to economic and agronomic concerns, but also to the lack of trouble free, reliable seeding equipment for planting into the heavy residue encountered in this region. Commercial shank and disc type no-till drills were developed primarily for low crop residue conditions for crops planted in wide rows. In heavy crop residue or when row spacing is narrow, shank type drills are prone to plugging, causing operator frustration and reducing field capacity. They also tend to cause large piles of residue to form, which cover the crop row and choke out young seedlings. Another problem with shank type drills is that the furrow opening shank disturbs the soil with sufficient force that the uncontrolled soil is thrown out of the seed furrow and occasionally onto the adjacent seed row. This adversely affects seeding depth and seedling emergence. Disc type drills are prone to “hair-pinning” straw into the seed furrow rather than placing seed into moist soil with good seed to soil contact. In an effort to overcome this problem, a project was initiated to develop residue management strategies and equipment to improve no-till drill performance. 

The objectives of these projects were to:
1. Develop a seeder attachment to improve the residue handling ability and performance of hoe-type no-till drills.
2. Evaluate the performance of the seeder attachment in terms of stand establishment and grain yield.
3. Develop a strategy for managing heavy wheat residue that would provide improved no-till drill performance. 

The seeder attachment developed is a patented prototype device (Siemens et al., 2002) consisting of a fingered rubber wheel, a rubber inner ring, and a spring-loaded arm that pivots about vertical and horizontal axis (Fig. 1). The unit is designed to attach to the tool bar of hoe-type no-till drills and positioned so that the inner ring is approximately one half inch away from the furrow opening shank. When seeding, the ground driven rubber fingered wheel and inner ring hold down and “walk” through crop residue, preventing it from building up on the shank and seed tube. They also help control soil disturbed by the furrow opener so that it stays within the seed row. When clumps of crop residue build up between the wheel and the shank, the arm holding the wheel is able to rotate away from the shank, causing the pile of crop residue to dislodge. After swinging out, the wheel will naturally track back into its operating position, close to the shank. Other features of the design are that the wheel has adjustable, spring loaded down pressure and vertical height adjustment.

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