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60 Ways Farmers Can Protect  Surface Water
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2. Avoid Fall Tillage

snow covered corn field

Avoiding fall tillage can make a key difference in controlling erosion.

Even if you end up tilling in the spring, you can buy yourself six to eight months of additional soil protection by not tilling in the fall. Chisel plowing in the fall can bury 40 to 70 percent of soybean residue and 30 to 50 percent of corn residue.

signs of soil compaction One reason fall tillage is done is to combat soil compaction. But before considering deep tillage, make sure your soil is actually compacted. Know the signs: Reduced soil drainage, slow crop growth and root development, increased plant injury from some soil-applied herbicides, deformed or flattened roots, and poor soil structure.
soybean chart Avoiding tillage entirely—in both the fall and spring—remains a growing trend. In the face of a 5. 4 million-acre decline in total cropland during 1995, no-till was the only production system to gain acreage nationwide. In fact, no-till is approaching conventional tillage as the most common tillage system for soybeans.
corn chart No-till corn dropped off a little in 1995, but not as much as conventional tillage, reduced-till, mulch-till, and ridge-till.
no-till field Illinois was the leading state for no-till soybeans with 3.2 million acres in 1995, and it ranked second in no-till corn with 1.8 million acres. The growth and success of no-till may be due to lower production costs, improved planters and drills, a lower capital investment in equipment, better herbicides, the desire to control erosion, and the need to meet conservation plan goals.

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