Missaukee Conservation District No-till Drill Rental
In an effort to promote conservation of our natural resources, the Missaukee Conservation District has a no-till drill available to rent. No-till farming protects soil and water by minimizing disturbance of the ground before planting into residue left by the previous year's crop. Missaukee Conservation District has partnered with Voelker Implement Sales, LLC and Ice Mountain Environmental Stewardship Fund Fremont Area Community Foundation to provide the drill to Missaukee and surrounding county farmers.
Mason-Lake, Mecosta and Wexford counties each have drills to rent. Click here for a comparison list of sizes, uses and contacts for each drill.
Missaukee County's John Deere 1590 No-till Drill Description: 15 feet wide with 7.5” spacing. Has 4 tires so there is no draw bar weight.
Grass Seed Box: for planting Alfalfa, Little bluestem, Big bluestem, Indian Grass. Regular Grain Box for planting clover, timothy, wheat, rye, soybeans and other large seed crops.
Road requirements: Can be towed with a 3/4 ton pickup, road width is 16 feet.
Location: Voelker Implement Sales, LLC, 4363 S. Morey Road, Lake City.
Cost: $100 per day or $15 per acre whichever is greater.
Uses: Planting large tracts of land such as farmland, grassland or native prairies.
Tractor needs: at least 100 hp and dual hydraulics.
Tillage decisions often relate to managing residue and, at the same time, reducing erosion. When manure and subsurface drainage are part of the cropping system, there are additional factors to consider.
Poorly drained fields that may pond during excessive rain events may actually create more runoff and erosion of soil and nutrients. Subsurface drainage increases water infiltration and, therefore, reduces surface runoff events. In fields such as these, any surface applied manures and fertilizers can also be vulnerable to moving off site. Injection or incorporation of manure and fertilizers are important not only for water quality, but for producers as well, so they are not literately flushing money down the creek.
Once the subsurface drainage is in place, a new concern surfaces – how to keep the nutrients from moving to the tile. Tillage will break up the macro pores, roughen the soil and allow the soil to absorb the water and nutrients before it reaches the subsurface drainage. But, how much tillage is enough to achieve the goal and how much tillage is too much? When tillage leaves only 1 percent residue on the surface, you can lose nearly 27 tons of soil per acre.
Injecting manure and planting into corn stubble leaves over 65 percent of the residue in place and decreases the soil loss to just 2.4 tons per acre.
No-till situations bring another set of goals and objectives. The purist no-till person who has manure will not want to inject or incorporate manure.
Incorporation for solid manure is often aggressive and decreases the surface residue – not a good fit for no-till goals. Liquid manure, on the other hand, can be easily injected with minimal soil distur-bance. Some studies of solid manures actually show a reduction in runoff when surface applied obviously due to high bedding sources in these types. Again, we are looking at a balance between one goal, incorporating manure or fertilizer, and another, leaving the optimal residue on the surface to decrease erosion.
No-till systems also create better water infiltration that is often credited to macro pores from worms and decaying roots. Although wonderful soil quality factors, when liquid manures are applied without any tillage, these same positive macro pours can create conduits to the subsurface drain systems. An Iowa study has documented greater nitrogen losses in tile drains from no-tillage systems compared to conventional systems. Light to moderate tillage, enough to disrupt the macro pour channels, can reduce this risk. Now the goal becomes using enough tillage to disrupt macro pours while still maintaining as much surface residue or surface roughness as possible to reduce runoff events.
A farmers approach to tillage, surface drainage and manure application is influenced by field layout and soil type. Understanding each field, watching water move in heavy rain events and adjusting management practices to address any concerns needs to be on-going.