Testing season but min-till can still provide maximum reward
Compaction, slaking and water logging combine to cut harvest yields
IT WAS a testing season for the minimum tillage trial carried out by Teagasc Oak Park at the Knockbeg site. In fact, it is the first year in 10 years that there is a noticeable difference between the min till and the plough-based system.
The winter wheat crop was sown in mid-October and conditions at sowing were very good but then the weather broke and it rained continuously for almost a month.
This leaves the question of what caused the gap between the two systems and how best to avoid this happening in the future.
The soil at the Knockbeg site has been cultivated at 75-100mm depth (three to four inches) since the start of the trial.
Because you normally work in the upper part of the soil with min till, organic residual matter can partly remain on the soil surface, reducing the danger of soil capping and erosion.
The absence of regular and intensive loosening results in better soil structure and stability and the improved ability to carry traffic.
The improved soil structure often improves aeration and water holding, makes cultivation easier and allows better utilisation of water.
It also has a great impact on the water infiltration rate.