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60 Ways Farmers Can Protect  Surface Water
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5. Adjust Equipment To Preserve Residue

Residue remaining diagram

How you operate your machinery and the attachments you use has a significant impact on residue cover. In most cases, for example, if you till shallow at a slow speed, you leave more residue on the surface than if you till deeply at a fast speed.

You can also see a big difference among the three most common ground-engaging components attached to the standards of a chisel plow—sweeps, spikes, or twisted shovels. Sweeps leave the most residue on the soil surface, followed by chisel spikes, and then twisted shovels.
combine blades To preserve more residue with either an offset disk or a tandem disk, operate blades at a small angle and only as deep as necessary to perform the desired tillage and residue cutting. Spherical blades leave more residue on the soil surface than conical blades.
cultivator When there is a choice between a field cultivator and a disk for secondary tillage, the cultivator will tend to bury less residue.
Ripper Rippers are similar to chisel plows, but they generally leave more residue. The farther apart you space the standards, the more surface residue you preserve. Also, narrower points will bury less residue than wide points.
tractor in field The set-up for different combination tools can vary considerably. To preserve the most residue, select the least aggressive attachments, set the disk blades to a shallow depth, and space the sweeps as wide as practical.
Remaining Residue diagram On planters, fluted coulters bury the most residue, followed by rippled and bubble coulters. Smooth coulters preserve the most residue.
Row Cleaning attachment Row-cleaning attachments are typically used when planting a crop in heavy residue. If you use row cleaners, adjust them to move only residue—not soil. Also, take care not to create a furrow with your row cleaner. A furrow provides a place for water to accumulate, increasing the risk of soil crusting and runoff that will wash out seeds, soil, and plants.
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