Crop Residue Handling at Seeding: issues to consider for no-till tine drills
Crop residues are the biggest harvest of cereal crops. The above ground stubble load often amounts to 1.3-1.8 times the grain yield in wheat. Maintaining permanent residue cover on the soil surface is a major component helping to maximize the productivity of no-till farming, with benefits including:1. Soil protection from wind and water erosion, and from high temperatures, 2. Improved crop water use efficiency from higher rainfall infiltration and reduced soil water evaporation, 3. Enhanced soil biological activity from the carbon food source and nutrient cycling, 4. Improved soil structure and water holding capacity from increased organic matter, 5. Reduced weed germination from phyto-toxicity effects. 80% or more surface cover is preferred for effective protection against wind and water erosion, while maximizing residue load is especially important for effective moisture conservation in the soil profile, both pre-seeding and in-season. The larger the amount of crop residue retained, however, the bigger the challenges with residue handling at seeding.