Maintain 30% Soil Cover All Year Long!

Rising land prices make it more important than ever to protect our soils from erosion and keep organic matter levels at optimum levels. Soil erosion can cost up to $10 per ton of lost soil per acre, reduce yields by up to 50% and cost up to $40 per acre in drain maintenance and other costs. Soil productivity can be easily maintained by providing at least 30% soil cover with crops, residues or cover crops throughout the year. A wide range of equipment and cropping options are available to get us there.

Tillage Considerations

  • Every tillage pass breaks down soil structure and aggregates.
    • Good soil structure is important for water movement into the soil. The more water that goes into the soil, less runs off and is lost.
    • A well-structured soil allows more air in the soil to support root growth and soil life.
  • When it comes to tillage, whoever makes the least passes wins.
    • Fewer passes leave more residue on the soil surface to protect from erosion, and also saves labour and fuel.
    • Design your tillage system to keep soil out of surface water.
  • The tillage system must be economical.
    • Avoid excessive tillage. In many cases, tillage does not pay for itself in additional yield.
  • The tillage system should be sustainable in the long ter
    • Reducing organic matter levels and allowing the soil to erode is not sustainable

Planter Considerations

  • Let the planter or drill do a tillage pass.
    • Adding coulters to the planter or drill can save a tillage pass, or eliminate the need for tillage all together.
    • Trash whippers can remove residue from the row, reducing one or more tillage passes.
  • Utilize a wide range of planter attachments to ensure good seed-to-soil contact.
    • Attachments are available to facilitate good seed placement.
    • Closing wheels are available to firm the seed in place.

Cropping Considerations

  • Longer crop rotations are better.
    • Including a wide variety of crops will help increase organic matter levels, reduce pest problems and increase crop yields.
  • Include cover crops as much as possible.
    • Cover crops can provide a wide variety of benefits, such as soil cover to protect against erosion, adding organic matter and improving soil structure.
  • Manage residues at harvest.
    • Proper spreading of crop residues at harvest can reduce the need for tillage and avoid uneven soil drying in the spring.
  • Winter wheat
    • No-tilling winter wheat into soybean or edible bean residue is the most profitable system, and provides the most soil cover.
  • Soybeans
    • No-tilling soybeans into corn residue is the most profitable system, and provides the most soil cover.
  • Corn
    • Reduced tillage and good residue management produces yields equivalent to moldboardplowing. This often costs less and provides more than 30% soil cover.
    • No-tilling corn after corn results in lower corn yields, although it provides the most soil cover.
    • Many growers successfully no-till corn after soybeans and cereal crops, while protecting the soil from erosion.

Wanted dead or alive! At least 30% soil cover 100% of the time.


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca