Residue Management and Erosion Control Demonstration Project
Toledo Metropolitan Areas Council of Governments
Basin Program Funds:
The retention of crop residue to prevent erosion is a major concern in northwest Ohio. Based on soil loss equations, Wood County loses an average of 3 tons of topsoil per acre per year. Some of this enters rivers and streams and ultimately the Great Lakes as sediment. These sediments are detrimental because they fill in lakebeds, riverbeds and harbors.
Although no-till and conservation tillage have been heavily promoted in northwest Ohio, many farmers still choose to use conventional tilling methods on their fields. After harvest in the fall the old crop is plowed under. During the winter and early spring, these fields are vulnerable to erosion. However, there is a new, innovative piece of tillage equipment that can provide a middle ground. This new equipment consists of a rolling blade, rotary hoe, and leveling board. It prepares the top one-inch of topsoil for planting. Testing of this equipment on the Hoytville clay soils typical of Wood County is essential before adoption of this technology can occur.
A technologically advanced piece of tillage equipment (the “To the Max” brand name rolling harrow) was purchased by the Wood County Soil and Water Conservation District. It was used on test plots at the Ag Incubator in Bowling Green, Ohio to scientifically test its effectiveness. The Ag Incubator is a private agricultural education center that specializes in agricultural research. Test plots were to be created and farmed for two growing seasons. The Bowling Green High School land lab also used this equipment in their research studies. A demonstration day was held and the equipment was featured at the Wood County Fair.
We expected greater attendance at the demonstration day but nonattendees said a
heavy morning rain kept them away. The Wood County Soil and Water Conservation District experienced equipment problems with the “To the Max.” It was noted that the equipment was not constructed heavy enough to perform consistently in the hard Wood County clay soil. The manufacturer was cooperative and sent replacement parts as needed.
The 2002 growing season made it difficult to accurately test the “To the Max.” The spring started off very cool and wet but dried out quickly and became hot and dry for the
remainder of the summer. As a result, crop yields were generally lower than normal.
With the absence of rain, there was little soil erosion on all tillage types, thus it was difficult to make comparisons between various tillage methods.
The response from farmers testing the “To the Max” was favorable but they did not see the expected increase in crop yields. Many of them expressed interest in using the equipment again under different weather conditions or perhaps in the fall.
In total, we were pleased with the farmer response to the equipment and the erosion control results. The farmers were willing to use a new piece of equipment on essentially an experimental basis and provided us with results that were the best we could expect given the unusual weather conditions. The erosion on test plots was reduced compared to conventional tillage due to the amount of residue left of fields, and crop yields were generally consistent with other tillage methods. Overall, it is felt that the “To the Max” could be a useful piece of equipment if it can withstand the strain northwest Ohio soils place on it. Fortunately, the manufacturer is researching a sturdier model to be built with heavy clay in mind.
Contact: David Gedeon, 419-241-9155 ex 125