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Competency Area 3: Tillage Systems

PO 14. Know how to make economically and environmentally sound tillage recommendations in a given situation.

The best tillage system depends on the soil (slope and texture), stand establishment of the crop (large seeded corn and soybeans vs. small seeded perennial forages), the fuel and labor costs of the tillage system, and other factors such as long-term sustainability (buildup of organic matter, sequestering of CO2, etc.). Soils that are highly erodible are best adapted to no-till or a reduced tillage system that leaves more than 50% residue on the surface.

Generally, soils that have drainage or cool temperature constraints are better adapted to moldboard plow or chisel tillage systems whereas droughty soils or soils that warm up rapidly are better adapted to a reduced or no-till system. Also, large seeded crops such as corn, soybeans, and wheat are better adapted to a no-till or reduced tillage system than small-seeded crops, such as perennial forages.