By Mahdi Al-Kaisi Professor of Soil Management/Environment
The current harvest season has provided excellent soil moisture conditions for harvesting with minimum impact on soil compaction if traffic control is practiced during harvest. Also, the dry soil condition offers good condition for applying anhydrous (if the soil temperature is right below 50oF), where soil closing after injecting the fertilizer is much more efficient to reduce ammonia losses and a good soil condition for storing water from precipitation.
However, these benefits can be reduced if fields are tilled. Soil tillage increases the potential for soil erosion and reduces water infiltration and subsoil recharge. Keeping crop residue on the soil surface this fall along with cover crops can increase water infiltration, reduce soil erosion, sediment and nutrient loss, contribute to soil organic matter, and improve soil quality. The uncertainty of weather conditions and the need for next season moisture requirements should be kept in mind when planning for the choice of tillage practice this fall.