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.