Agronomy Library > Soil Conservation

Handling Difficult Crop Residue Conditions in Direct Seeding Systems
Author: Murray Green
Date Created: March 03, 1996
Last Reviewed: February 14, 2007

High crop yields and unusual weather often leave hard-to-handle crop residue conditions. These include:

  • crops not harvested due to hail, severe frost or other damage.
  • lodged or snow-flattened crops not picked up by the windrower or combine.
  • crops producing heavy residues such as viny pea crops, sunflowers and flax.
  • very tall stubble left by straight-cut or stripper-header operations.

Combine performance is reduced when very heavy crops are cut short and large amounts of crop residue must pass through the combine for chopping and spreading. Long stems or whole plants left unharvested can cause equipment plugging in subsequent operations.

When developing a residue management system that can handle difficult conditions, consider timeliness, economics, cropping plans, and conservation of soil and soil moisture. Your system must leave the field surface in good condition for subsequent equipment operations and for crop growth. Planters must be able to place the seed at the proper depth into moist soil with good seed-to-soil contact. Soil moisture must be conserved in case of dry spring weather. And, of course, reasonable costs must be maintained.

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