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Managing residue in strip till corn

By: RealAgriculture Agronomy Team

January 19, 2022

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Planting corn into a cultivated strip provides many soil health and management benefits, but dealing with residue from the previous crop can prove challenging.

In this video report from 2021 Ontario Diagnostic Days, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs corn specialist Ben Rosser and Anderson Agronomy Services agronomist Chad Anderson share what they’re learning from trials designed to understand how to better manage residue in strip till corn.

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Rosser and Anderson report on a first-time strip till field in Lambton County. The strips were made in wheat stubble in August in bone-dry soil. Anderson notes that the strip tiller did a great job working through the heavy clay soil but the following corn crop was significantly affected by poor wheat residue management in specific areas across the field. (Story continues after the video.)

Where wheat straw was windrowed and baled off, chaff accumulated under the windrows which lead to damp, chaff-laden areas that did not strip well. Volunteer wheat, which accumulated on the outside of the windrows, also caused headaches. Despite fall and spring herbicide applications the volunteers proved difficult to control and provided significant competition in the spring for growing corn plants.

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In the video, Anderson and Rosser discuss management options to better control wheat residue when making strips for a following corn crop. In this situation, Anderson says growers need to determine whether they should forego selling straw and chop the straw. Based on what he’s seeing in this field, Anderson says the lost corn yield would also justify investing in a chaff spreader for the combine.

Click here to view the complete 2021 Ontario Diagnostic Days series.

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