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2006 Annual Report: Tillage Systems in Corn

Objective

2006 Corn tillage systems yield results.
Table 1 - 2006 Corn tillage systems yield results

The objective of this demonstration is to evaluate the effect of different tillage systems on corn yields and profitability of the enterprise. This is the 16th year for this demonstration.

Methods and Materials

The four most common tillage systems practiced in this region were used for this demonstration. The tillage systems used were: Fall and Spring Disk, Spring Disk, No-till, and Fall Chisel and Spring Disk

Each plot consisted of eight rows spaced 30 inches apart and 250 feet long. Yield results were taken from the center six rows of each plot. The plots were planted on April 19, 2006 with a population of 29,908 seeds/acre into a field that raised soybeans in 2005. Harvest was conducted on October 2, 2006.

Results

2006 Corn tillage systems yield results.Figure 1 - 2006 Corn tillage systems yield results.

In 2006, the highest yielding system was the No-till plot with a yield of 205.3 bu/acre. The lowest yielding system was the Fall Chisel and Spring Disk plot which yielded 189.3 bu/ac. The average for the four systems was 199.7 bu/ac with a standard deviation of 7.1 bu/ac. Yield results for all four tillage systems are shown in Table 1 and Figure 1.

Perhaps the best comparison can be made by looking at the 16-year results of the study as shown in Figure 2. This long term collection of data allows the weather variable to be minimized since we had greatly varying weather patterns during this time period. During this 16 year period, the No-till system averaged 156.6 bu/acre, out-yielding the other tillage systems used. The Fall Chisel and Spring Disk treatment had the lowest average of 153.5 bu/acre.

Gross income per acre minus tillage costs over a 16-year period.
Table 2 - Gross income per acre minus tillage costs over a 16-year period

The most important aspect of the tillage trials is the net bottom line. The application of fertilizer, herbicides, seed, planting and harvesting were identical for each of the tillage systems used. The economic differences shown are a result of the tillage procedures conducted on each plot and the associated costs.

Corn tillage systems 16 year yield averages.
Figure 2 - Corn tillage systems 16 year yield averages

It is very difficult to estimate tillage costs as each grower's operating costs will be different. Age and size of the equipment, field shape and size as well as soil type will all effect the tillage costs. A large variable most seasons is fuel cost. To come up with a standard comparison value, we used the rates from the MU Custom Rates guidesheet for the various tillage operations performed. These values are based on data collected from producers across Missouri. This guide was updated in 2006 with the new values reflecting the increases in fuels costs the past two years.

One factor not considered in the economic are a result of the tillage procedures conducted on each plot and the associated costs. It is very difficult to estimate tillage costs as each grower's operating costs will be different. Age and size of the equipment, field shape and size as well as soil type will all effect the tillage costs. A large variable most seasons is fuel cost. To come up with a standard comparison value, we used the rates from the MU Custom Rates guidesheet for the various tillage operations performed.

These values are based on data collected from producers across Missouri. This guide was updated in 2006 with the new values reflecting the increases in fuels costs the past two years. One factor not considered in the economic may contaminate the water.