Residue rescue: Survey results

High cereal yields last year mean more residue issues this spring. If the drill cannot cut through or dig under the residue to place seed into soil, then some sort of residue management may be the lesser of two evils. We ran a survey the past two weeks asking Canola Watch readers for their thoughts on effective spring management for residue.

Following are the detailed responses we received. Note that the opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Canola Council of Canada and may not represent the best management practices.

—”Start in the fall. Make sure the combine is doing a good job of chopping/spreading. Pay attention to stubble height, it needs to be less than your drill opener spacing. Heavy harrow while there are still warm dry days. Usually this is good enough for us. If the field is questionable in spring we will heavy harrow again before planting.”

—”Heavy harrow in spring can help although this year seems a little unusual since trash is more wirey than normal.”

—”Forced to shallow cultivate then harrow-pack. Straw was terrible and it was totally my own fault from poor residue management on the combine. Live and learn.”

—”While burning is not the option we like to use, after last years crop and this years cool, wet spring this option will be our go to method. Getting Canola to pop out of the ground when the field has been burned seems to provide some positives. Harrowing and burning bunches is also on the list.”

—”We use a heavy harrow with good results, but ground and straw has to be dry.”

—“I have really been promoting the idea of being proactive at harvest and getting straw chopper/spreaders set up to deal with residue. Too many guys run harrows ahead of seeding and it dries out the seedbed causing poor germination.”

—“Put it under in the fall with a heavy disk. Ground with a 6″ layer of straw won’t warm up till July. Light harrow in the spring to level up and dry out. Tillage is the lesser of the evils.”

—”The zero till mentality of leaving crop residue as a thatch on the ground has been a failure. It does not matter how well ground up the residue is, it keeps the ground too wet and too cold for too long in the spring and compromises seed placement in the next crop. Fall tillage with a chisel plow and heavy harrow works well and allows us to fill in sprayer and combine ruts. Spring tillage has to be using a Salford or TurboTil to maintain a firm seed bed. Zero till was not designed with modern yields in mind.”