Managing crop residue is the first step to establishing the best seedbed for your fields. From incorporating nutrient-rich residue and organic matter into your soil to breaking down tough stalks, stems, and roots, setting the right seedbed means working with the right equipment for the job.
Many growers in Western Canada use zero and minimal tillage systems, but managing crop residue and soil moisture is an increasing challenge, especially in fields with compaction issues. These low-impact practices offer plenty of agronomic advantages, like reducing soil disturbance and erosion while maintaining organic matter and soil nutrients. But soil compaction can lead to the formation of a hardpan layer just below the top few inches of soil in a field. This layer is so compact that it restricts much-needed moisture and nutrients from reaching crop roots. And the result of restricting water and nutrient availability is limited root growth and penetration into the subsoil, leading to stunted, drought-stressed plants.
So, how can growers manage crop residue with their preferred zero or minimal tillage equipment while avoiding soil compaction? The answer is vertical tillage.
How does this method work?
Aptly named, vertical tillage is an approach that encompasses the entire soil profile – from the top down. Starting with the surface layer, the system breaks down crop residue, incorporating it into the top few inches of soil and preparing an ideal seedbed. Working down through the soil profile, true vertical tillage machines can also manage and correct compaction issues, improve moisture and drainage, and support strong root growth for crop establishment.
Salford’s vertical tillage equipment, including the Independent Series or I-Series lineup, offers growers an opportunity to realize the benefits of vertical tillage. Salford’s patented coil-tech coulters are a unique innovation that combat compaction, fracturing hardpan by using the “jackhammer” effect to drive the vertical coulters into compaction layers, fracturing two to three inches further than the depth worked. You can set the ideal seedbed and field finish with the progressive equipment design that breaks down tough crop residue – all while improving soil health and controlling moisture by fracturing the soil to break the effect of hardpan.
Vertical tillage also breaks down all types of crop residue, including tough stems, stalks, and roots, with minimal soil disruption. The system incorporates residue into the top two to three inches where the organic matter will be available for next year’s crop – and opens the top layer just enough to allow oxygen to enter the soil. Salford’s six unique I-Series models have different types of blades and coulter spacing. Depending on the I-Series model, 25-80 percent anchored stubble is disturbed, leaving the rest to hold the seedbed to reduce soil erosion.
Each I-Series model is equipped with coil-tech springs that use kinetic downforce to create the ‘jackhammer’ hammer effect to combat hardpan. The weight of the I-Series frame creates consistent downforce on the spring-loaded coil-tech coulters. As the coulters cross the ground, they act on and react to the terrain creating vibrations that fracture the soil. The fractured soil improves the flow of moisture and nutrients improving their availability to developing plants.
Soil Health Improvement
Salford has been working closely with farmers in Western Canada to achieve their best seedbeds with the I-Series vertical tillage lineup, helping each customer meet the needs of their individual farm conditions. Vertical tillage is known to create better root systems and improve moisture availability and retention – all key factors that support stronger stands and higher crop yields.
Adding vertical tillage to any crop management rotation is an investment that can address soil compaction and improve crop residue breakdown. And, this system effectively incorporates much-needed organic matter into the soil to reduce the chances of plugging seeding equipment.