Vertical tillage is a practice that has been around since the early to mid-1990s. Generally speaking, it is a tillage practice designed to size, slice, and chop after-harvest crop residue while penetrating 2 or 3 inches (5-7.6 cm) of soil. The sized residue is left on the soil surface to decompose, helping minimize erosion, enhance soil profile and leave a smooth, level surface for planting. True vertical tillage requires specialized equipment designed specifically for this practice.
So why would vertical tillage be a practice you might consider using?
It starts with your soil.
If you live in an area with a relatively thin layer of topsoil, then you have to make decisions differently than someone who lives in an area with 12 or more inches (30.5 cm) of topsoil. These two environments will probably experience different annual moisture levels, too. Areas with thinner topsoil tend be dryer overall. The average crop yields from these two environments will also be quite different. But many of the input costs will actually be similar. Seed, fertilizer, chemicals, fuel – these costs tend to be similar on a per acre basis.
So if you live in an area that is dryer, has thinner topsoil, and lower average yields, vertical tillage could really work to your benefit.
Here’s how it works and what it can mean.
Your lower average crop yield will tend to leave comparatively less after-harvest residue. A true vertical tillage tool sizes the residue and fractures the soil, but only to a depth of 1 – 3 inches (2.5-7.6 cm). In other words, the residue virtually stays on or near the surface, protecting your precious topsoil from wind erosion while it decomposes and returns nutrients to the soil. The minimal depth penetration of vertical tillage also helps what moisture is in your soil to stay there. It protects your soil, and helps it retain as much moisture and nutrient volume as possible.
Frontier’s VT17 Series (US CA) vertical tillage tools can do that in one pass, at a higher speed, and with lower horsepower requirements compared to using primary tillage equipment. That means you can probably use your existing utility tractor, and potentially save money in fuel costs.
When planting season rolls around, these vertical tillage tools can also prepare a smooth, level seedbed at the 2 – 3 inch (5-7.6 cm) depth, also in one pass. That helps save time and fuel costs again. And because the soil has been able to retain moisture and build nutrients over the winter, you’ve improved your chances for producing good crop yields, while keeping your input costs controlled.
Frontier has over 600 implements that are available only from your John Deere dealer, the place to go for advice and equipment.
So remember, for implements that help turn your tractor into the workhorse it was built to be, think Frontier and your John Deere dealer.