EM071 High Residue Farming Under Irrigation: What and Why provides an overview of high residue farming (HRF), including its benefits and challenges. It also discusses some special considerations for high residue farming in the irrigated agriculture regions of the far western United States.
Researchers are finding, in the US and in many other countries, that concentrating soil organic matter in the top 2″ promotes several aspects of soil health including nutrient cycling, resistance to erosion, and water infiltration and storage. They find that maintaining a high proportion of organic matter at the soil surface, relative to deeper layers, is more important than the total level of organic matter in a soil.» More …
Starter fertilizer is necessary for high corn yields at our Northern latitude, and especially with high residue farming systems. A common way to apply dry starter fertilizers has been the 2×2 method, two inches off the row and two inches below the seed. However, recent research has found that surface banding of liquid fertilizer, 2″ off the row, can be just as effective. Surface banding eliminates the need for an extra set of openers, allows greater residue levels and reduces required planter weight. It also allows greater fertilizer rates than popup methods (with the seed).
I have talked to several growers who are concerned about how cold springs have reduced their strip-tilled corn yields when compared to corn with full width clean tillage. While we can hope for average spring temperatures, there are a few other things that should be considered.