Producers going to no-till or, thinking about it, should set up their planter differently than if they are tilling the ground. Paul Jasa, extension engineer with the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, says producers need to look at how equipment cuts and handles residue, penetrates the soil, establishes proper seed-to-soil contact, and closes the seed-vee.
“Keeping these four items in mind, a producer can evaluate the strengths or weaknesses of any piece of planting equipment and make any adjustments or changes necessary to make no-till successful,” explains Jasa. “Fortunately, most currently available planters and drills can be used for no-till with few, if any, modifications.”
Before planting, Jasa suggests checking the double-disk seed-furrow openers on the planter. Coulters are unnecessary when the double-dish seed-furrow is adjusted inward as it wears. Jasa says as they are adjusted, producers should remove the spacer washers behind them, which keeps the blades working together as one cutting edge.”Double-disk seed furrow openers, if sharp and adjusted properly, can cut through residue better than coulters,” he says.
Disks need to be adjusted or replaced to keep proper configuration. Jasa explains that disks
should have about two inches of contact on the leading edge if they are mounted side-by-side. However, “On staggered disk seed-furrow openers the rear disk should be tucked in behind the leading disk, just touching,” he says.
For some producers, flat, wet soils can be a problem. Jasa suggests using spider wheel row cleaners to move the residue and help the soil dry out. “Unlike disk row cleaners, the spider wheels can be set to move only residue,” he says. If residue isn’t removed from where crops are being planted, they may hinder emergence.
Jasa says many no-tillers do not run residue movers with their planter, but allow the planter to run on residue in the field. This way, producers don’t have to worry about crusted over soil or wet soil crusting to gauge wheels.