Two stories offer perspectives on residue management

The article “Tips for Making No-Tilled Corn-on-Corn Successful” was published recently on the No-Till Farmer website. Author Laura Allen includes quotes from farmers from all over the central midwest and also Iowa State University Agricultural Engineer Mark Hanna, faculty advisor for Iowa Learning Farms. The farmers and experts offer advice on all stages of the corn-on-corn growing process from fall harvest through spring planting. Part of the article talks about soil health and residue breakdown.

“Once residue is present in the field, the soil microbes get to work decomposing the residue, says Doug Miller, vice president of Midwest Bio-Tech, a company that distributes liquid biological and enzyme treatment products for crops and crop residue. ‘As soon as you’ve got residue in the field, it’s more or less like opening up the buffet line for the microbes. They’re going to multiply very rapidly and start to work in seeking out carbon, which is their main fuel source,’ Miller says.”

“Myths and Facts About Residue Breakdown” is in today’s Integrated Crop Management News. ISU agronomy professor and former ILF leader Mahdi Al-Kaisi explains the results of his research study on the effects of residue breakdown through tillage and nitrogen application.

“There were no differences in the rate of residue decomposition as a result of N application of different N rates.  These results show that applying N fertilizer to facilitate residue decomposition is not effective.”

“Environmentally, both tillage and N application are not very sustainable practices; tillage can contribute to soil health and water quality deterioration by increasing soil erosion potential, sediment loss and water quality degradation, as do N applications, where no growing plant can utilize it.” – Al Kaisi

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