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Moldboard Plowing into a Corn After Corn Rotation. Good Idea?

Back by popular demand, we have continued our testing with the moldboard plow. Beck's Moldboard Plow Study. Continuous Corn - 2014. Our goal at Central Illinois PFR is to determine if there are any advantages to adding moldboard plowing into a corn after corn rotation. Two tillage treatments were evaluated in this study: fall moldboard plow followed by a pass with vertical-tillage in the spring, and fall chisel plow followed by vertical-tillage in the spring.

This was our second year conducting this moldboard plow study. 2014 data shows a -6.0 Bu./A. yield disadvantage for the moldboard plow treatment in comparison to a chisel plow tillage program. Just a year ago, moldboard plowing offered a yield gain of 10.7 Bu./A., and we thought this aggressive tillage might be beneficial in a continuous corn rotation due to high residue and carbon loads. Moldboard plowing has the ability to turn soil over, burying residue and eliminating high amounts of carbon loads in the top 12 in. of
the soil profile, but it also has some clear disadvantages like erosion concerns and devastating soil movement. With only two years of collected data, it is hard to make any sound conclusions. We will continue to incorporate various forms of tillage programs, including moldboard plowing, in our testing program in the years ahead.

Beck's Hybrids PFR program conducts more than 90 different studies across multiple locations (700+ acres) to learn how different management practices and new technologies perform in field environments. Simply put, it is research focused with the farmer in mind. To see the entire study, please download the PFR Book and see page 180.

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