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Farmers Face Tough Tillage Decisions

Farmers are busy making decisions about fall tillage.

Marla Riekman is a Land Management Specialist (Soil) with Manitoba Agriculture.

"I have been hearing of some people holding off and similarly to last year, there were some people who were holding off a little bit on tillage," she said. "It's always a bit of a tricky one because quite often we get into that mindset that we need to till thinking about what next spring is going to bring in terms of how much moisture there's going to be and if it's wet in the spring, are we going to be upset that we didn't get the tillage done this fall but that is always one of the tricky things because we can't really predict what that weather is going to look like."

Riekman gave an update on soil moisture conditions.

"Right now we're still seeing things look pretty dry. Not necessarily across the western side of the province, there's been a little bit more moisture there, so soil moisture is not quite as dry as we are seeing in the Red River Valley. In our valley soils, where we've got drier conditions on the surface and those heavier clay soils, part of the problem with tilling them when they are dry is that we end up seeing these really big clods and clumps come up and then that's not a great seed bed for next year either which inspires us to do more tillage to try to break that down and so if there is an opportunity for people to think about holding off on tillage, especially in some of the heavier clays or those drier areas, that might be the best time to be thinking about doing it this year."

She says wind erosion could become a concern in the spring if fields are over tilled in the fall.

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