Why Vertical Tillage Might Be Right For You

By Staff

 Why Vertical Tillage Might Be Right For You

April 2018 – Sponsored by John Deere

Vertical tillage is a practice that has been around since the early to mid-1990s, but it has been much in the news recently. In fact, at a seminar at the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Ky., in February titled “Tillage Trends for 2018 and Beyond,” the presentations were almost entirely focused on vertical tillage.

Frontier VT1712 in corn stubble.

Generally speaking, vertical tillage is designed to size, slice, and chop after-harvest crop residue while penetrating 2 to 3 inches of soil. The sized residue is left on the surface to decompose, helping minimize erosion, enhance soil profile and leave a smooth, level surface for planting. True vertical tillage requires specialized equipment designed specifically for this practice.

So, why would vertical tillage be a practice you might consider using? It starts with your soil.

If you live in an area with a relatively thin layer of topsoil, then you have to make decisions differently than someone who lives in an area with 12 or more inches (30.5 cm) of topsoil. These two environments will probably experience different annual moisture levels, too. Areas with thinner topsoil tend be dryer overall. The average crop yields from these two environments will also be quite different, but many of the input costs will actually be similar. Seed, fertilizer, chemicals, fuel—these costs tend to be similar on a per acre basis.

Fields with thinner topsoil also tend to be dryer.

So if you live in an area that is drier, has thinner topsoil, and lower average yields, vertical tillage could really work to your benefit.

Here’s why.

Your lower average crop yield will tend to leave comparatively less after-harvest residue. A true vertical tillage tool sizes the residue and fractures the soil, but only to a depth of 1 to 3 inches. In other words, the residue stays on or near the surface, protecting your precious topsoil from wind erosion, while it decomposes and returns nutrients to the soil. The minimal depth penetration of vertical tillage also helps conserve your soil’s limited moisture.

True vertical tillage equipment is designed to size, slice, and chop crop residue
while only penetrating the soil 2 to 3 inches deep.

Frontier’s VT17 Series vertical tillage tools can do all that in one pass, at a higher speed, and with lower horsepower requirements compared to using primary tillage equipment. That means you can probably use your existing utility tractor and potentially save money in fuel costs.

When planting season rolls around, these vertical tillage tools can also prepare a smooth, level seedbed, 2 to 3 inches deep, also in one pass. That helps save time and fuel costs again. And because the soil has been able to retain moisture and build nutrients over the winter, you’ve improved your chances for producing good crop yields while keeping your input costs controlled.

Along with the VT17 Series Vertical Tillage Tools, Frontier has nearly 600 implements that are available only from your John Deere dealer, the place to go for advice and equipment.

To get the most from your implements, be sure to read the Operator’s Manual before using any piece of equipment, and follow all operating and safety instructions.

If you’d like to see more tips and videos about getting all kinds of jobs done around your place, and the equipment you need to do them, visit TipsNotebook.com.