Biological Systems Engineering



Stephen D. Kachman

Date of this Version



Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, July-August 1995, Volume 50, Number 4, pp. 399-404.


Copyright 1995 Soil and Water Conservation Society.


Crop residue left on the soil surface after planting is one of the most cost-effective soil erosion control practices, and is a primary component of the majority of conservation plan that have been developed to comply with the conservation provisions of the 1985 Food Security Act. However, from contacts in Extension meetings and demonstrations, it became apparent that formers frequently misunderstood certain aspects of crop residue management, particularly the effects that tillage and other operations had on residue cover. To help address some of these questions, we measured percent residue cover remaining on the soil surface after planting for 69 tillage and planting system treatments used in corn (Zea mays L.) residue. Eleven tillage systems, in conjunction with combinations of the use, and timing, of a stalk chopper and/or a knife-type fertilizer applicator, were evaluated. Only 24 of these stalk chopper/knife applicator/tillage system treatment combinations could be classified as conservation tillage when a criterion of 30% or greater residue cover after planting was used. No-till was the only system that consistently provided residue cover levels that were statistically equal to or greater than 40%, the value used in a field study conducted by the Soil and Water Conservation Society to assess conservation plans.