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LSP Report LS7015

Crop Production with a No-Traffic Tillage System


Researcher: D.S. Young, RCAT

Funding: $32,000


  1. To enhance and maintain the quality of the soils of southwestern Ontario, and find cost effective crop rotations which maintain soil quality and reduce soil degradation.
  2. To study the effects of different compaction and tillage practices on:
    1. yields of corn
    2. selected soil chemical and physical properties
    3. the change in selected plant nutrients found in the soil over time
    4. the change in uptake of different nutrients by corn.

Expected Benefits

  1. To provide a better understanding of soil compaction which could allow producers to alter traffic patterns over the soil surface to reduce the area compacted.

Summary of Research Results

Soil Property Summary

  1. The annual post-harvest imposition of a 12 tonne axle load prior to fall tillage operations caused significantly higher penetrometer resistance within and below the plow layer of soils whether conventional or reduced tillage practices were employed. Differences in penetrometer resistance in the plow layer between load and no load situations were greater for zero tillage than for either chisel or moldboard.
  2. Tillage systems and resulting plow layer soil conditions had little effect on the depth to which repeated axle loadings affected subsoil penetrometer resistance. Penetrometer resistance below 35 cm depth was not significantly affected by the axle load.
  3. On the loam soil, soil moisture in the 0 to 15 cm depth interval was often significantly lower when all traffic was eliminated by the use of a wide span vehicle. These differences were more evident during periods of lower than average precipitation.
  4. Controlling traffic did appear to result in lower soil bulk densities than more random traffic patterns on the silt loam and clay loam sites. Soil bulk densities were significantly lower for FPU treatments for at least one depth at each site when averaged across all tillage systems but not within any specific main tillage treatment. However, on the loam site, differences in bulk density were found only among tillage systems.

Plant Effects Summary

  1. The use of a wide-span controlled traffic system generally resulted in poorer early growth of corn within chisel or moldboard systems. This was in some cases due to reduced soil moisture levels in the seedbed compared to wheel trafficked plots.
  2. In some instances later season corn growth within the controlled traffic system was great enough to compensate for any early season lag. This may have been due to superior sub-surface soil conditions such as lower penetrometer resistance.
  3. The typical 10-15% yield reduction in corn yields often experienced with zero tillage compared to conventional tillage (when corn follows corn) was not overcome by eliminating traffic from the plot area.
  4. Differences in final grain yield among traffic systems were generally not significant.
  5. Soybean yields (in the one site/year) were equally unaffected by tillage or traffic systems.




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Created: 03-23-1996
Last Revised: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 12:51:16 PM