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Rethink Vertical Tillage After Residual Herbicide ApplicationRethink Vertical Tillage After Residual Herbicide Application

Could using vertical tillage to dry out soil affect herbicide performance?

Tom Bechman 1

January 6, 2014

2 Min Read

Vertical tillage tools have found a home on many farms where no-till is the goal, but here are still questions about handling residue without doing something to it. When set and run correctly about 2 inches deep or less, at 7 to 10 miles per hour, most vertical tillage tools leave residue on the surface.

There is a wide range in the type of tools that are called vertical tillage tools. Some are much more aggressive at moving soil than others, even when operated correctly. Part of the secret is knowing what you are trying to accomplish before you use the tool.


Many are used to run over corn stalks in the fall. However, in areas where soils stay wet in the spring, one source reports many people are using them to dry out the soil so they can get in to plant faster.

This method is a variation on the old "disk to dry it out" theory, except by running much shallower and faster, experts say the jury is still out on how much soil compaction the trip is creating.  Run correctly, the tools don't tend to draw up wet soil underneath, leaving an area that dries out for planting fairly quickly.

One source in the farm supply business says there can be another issue with running vertical tillage tools to dry out soil. If some residual herbicides have already been applied, such as ones that have to go on so many days before planting, the vertical tillage trip can be enough to break the seal the herbicide has formed on the surface. The result can be a reduction in performance and more weed escapes.

Residual herbicides are becoming more of an issue as resistant marestail, waterhemp and Palmer amaranth begin to show up in Indiana. Most are resistant to glyphosate, and to ALS chemistry.

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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