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Fall Tillage: To Basket or Not to Basket

As we look back on the recent harvest season and the preparation it entailed, it’s important to reflect on the critical steps involved in setting the stage for a successful spring planting. Key among these steps is the decision-making process regarding tillage equipment settings, particularly the use of rolling baskets. While the harvest may be over, understanding the role of these baskets in soil preparation is crucial for future planning. In this article, we will explore the reasons for both approaches and when each may be used, setting you up for a successful spring.

Baskets Up

Rough Finish and Faster Drying Spring: Keeping the baskets up during past tillage leads to a rougher field finish, which increases the soil’s surface area and aids in quicker drying come spring. This is especially beneficial in wet regions or for soils with heavy clay content, as it can enable earlier crop planting and potentially higher yields.
Reduced Erosion Risk: A rougher surface finish is vital in reducing erosion through surface runoff. An uneven surface created by raised baskets helps slow down water flow and minimize soil erosion, an essential consideration in hilly or sloped fields.
Managing Wet and Muddy Conditions: Fall weather can be unpredictable. Raised baskets during tillage can prevent plugging in wet conditions, ensuring an even field preparation.
Low Residue Levels: For fields with low residue levels, raised baskets minimize unnecessary soil disturbance, thus maintaining soil structure and water infiltration capacity, crucial for future crop growth.
 

Baskets Down

Breaking Down Heavy Residue: In fields with a heavy residue like corn stalks, lowered baskets can help incorporate this residue into the soil, facilitating quicker breakdown and avoiding impediments to seed placement and root growth in the next season.
Increasing Microbial Activity and Decomposition: Lowered baskets not only break down residue but also enhance microbial activity in the soil. This accelerates decomposition, enriching the soil with organic matter and nutrients for future crops.
Better Finish for Planting into a Stale Seedbed: For spring planting into a stale seedbed, lowered baskets create a smoother, more level seedbed, aiding in planting efficiency and seed-to-soil contact.
 

Salford FlexFinish Finishing System Option

The Salford FlexFinish Hydraulic Harrow Package, compatible with the Independent Series and 5200 Enforcer, offers flexibility in adjusting the rolling baskets. This system allows operators to adapt the tillage approach to varying conditions and soil types, optimizing field preparation for each unique situation.

Reflecting on the past harvest season, the decision to leave baskets up or down during tillage should be rooted in an understanding of your field’s specific conditions and long-term farming objectives. Each approach offers distinct advantages, and the choice can significantly influence the success of the upcoming growing season. By considering factors like surface finish, residue management, and soil condition, farmers can make well-informed decisions to achieve optimal results. Remember, the right tillage approach lays the foundation for a fruitful crop, and understanding the role of rolling baskets is a step toward achieving that goal. For personalized advice, Salford authorized dealers are available across North America to help tailor solutions to your operation’s needs.

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