Advancing Sustainable Agriculture in the Pacific Northwest

Conservation Tillage Systems

Information Resource

Chapter 2 - Systems and Equipment, No. 8, Fall 1987

Conservation Tillage Equipment Directory in Progress

Roger Veseth

Significant advances in conservation farming technology through the STEEP conservation farming research program and related research efforts is revolutionizing farming practices in the Northwest. One of the most visible and dramatic impacts of this new research technology is the resultant changes and additions in equipment options.

Preliminary Equipment Directory

To help inform growers of these recent equipment
changes, a directory of conservation farming equipment is currently in the beginning stages of development. The following PRELIMINARY directory of conservation tillage equipment includes three equipment categories which represent the most frequent areas of equipment information request to STEEP Extension. These include:

1. Conservation Tillage Drills
2. Drill Attachments for Conservation Tillage
3. Combine Residue Spreading Attachments

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED! This preliminary directory is a first attempt at identifying the commercial manufacturers, their product, and a Northwest dealer contact, if not located in the Northwest, Your help is needed in identifying the equipment and manufacturers which have been overlooked, If you know of any drill, drill attachment or combine attachment which relates in any way to conservation tillage and should be included in this directory, please contact:
Roger Veseth
Ext. Conservation Tillage Spec,
P. S.E.S. Dept.
University of Idaho
MOSCOW, ID 83843-4196
or call (208) 885-6386

A detailed questionnaire is being sent to all identified manufacturers for more details on their equipment. Black and white pictures of the equipment and component options are also being requested. A detailed directory will be compiled when the information and pictures are received. Ideally, the directory information will also be available in some form for computer access.

Conservation Tillage Drills

When the STEEP research program began in 1975 Northwest growers had few equipment options for conservation tillage. The availability of grain drills which could effectively seed under minimum tillage or no-till conditions was a particularly severe limitation to grower
adoption of conservation tillage practices. Fewer than five models of commercial conservation tillage drills were available, none of which were capable of deep banding fertilizer. The bulk of the nitrogen fertilizer had to be broadcast: a problem which, for most of the region, resulted in lower fertilizer use efficiency, limited yield potential and increased grassy weed problems. Today, there are more than 31 manufacturers offering
at least 47 models of conservation tillage drills. Because of STEEP and related research which demonstrates the importance of deep fertilizer placement and seed-fertilizer geometry for root access, more than 65 percent of these drills have options of deep fertilizer banding. There is little doubt that drill manufacturers are responding to new research technology and grower demands.

Drill Attachments

For growers who would rather modify their conventional drills for conservation tillage, there has also been a major increase in drill attachments to improve planting success and yield potential. A preliminary search indicates that at least 11 manufacturers offer drill attachments such as: coulters, coulter-knives, modified seed and fertilizer openers, residue removers and other attachments to improve drill performance under conservation tillage. Some attachments have been developed directly from STEEP research prototypes.

Combine Attachments

A third area of equipment development is an increase in availability of combine residue spreading attachments. STEEP research has demonstrated the severe impact that high concentrations of residue in combine straw and chaff rows can have on yield potential of the following crop under minimum tillage or no-till systems. Increased disease potential, nutrient immobilization, increased weed competition and reduced herbicide effectiveness, drill plugging, poor seed-soil contact, and slow growth from cool, wet soil conditions are a few of the potential problems associated with combine straw and chaff rows.
STEEP research has demonstrated combine residue spreading attachments or modifications can provide uniform residue distribution. Industry is again responding to this new technology. A tentative count shows that there are at least five manufacturers of residue spreading attachments with units to fit most models of combines. The word is out that successful conservation tillage begins with uniform combine residue distribution.

- Preliminary Directory -
Commercial Conservation Tillage Drills, Drill Attachments and Combine Residue Spreading Attachments for the Pacific Northwest

Table 1. Commercial conservation tillage drills.

Use of Trade Names

To simplify the information, trade names have been used. Neither endorsement of named products is intended nor criticism implied of similar products not mentioned.

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Hans Kok, WSU/UI Extension Conservation Tillage Specialist, UI Ag Science 231, PO Box 442339, Moscow, ID 83844 USA (208)885-5971
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