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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 88 No. 5, p. 792-797

    * Corresponding author(s): mehuys@nrs.mcgill.ca
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Tillage and Crop Residue Effects on Corn Production in Quebec

  1. M. S. Burgess,
  2. G. R. Mehuys  and
  3. C. A. Madramootoo
  1. Dep. of Agric. Eng., Macdonald Campus, McGill Univ., 21 111 Lakeshore Rd., Ste. Anne de Bellevue, QC H9X 3V9, Canada



Reduced tillage is often recommended to decrease soil degradation and erosion associated with intensive row cropping. This study assessed the effects of different tillage and crop residue levels on corn (Zea mays L.) yields and related factors on a 2.4-ha site in southwestern Quebec over a 3-yr period. The soil, a Typic Endoaquent, consisted of sandy loam or loamy sand (mean depth, 46 cm) overlying clay, with subsurface drains at the 1.2-m depth. Treatments, begun in fall 1991, consisted of no-till (NT), reduced tillage (RT; disked in fall and spring), and conventional tillage (CT; moldboard-plowed in fall, disked in spring), in combination with two crop-residue levels: no residue (− R; grain and stover removed at harvest, as for silage corn) and with residue ( + R; stover left on site at harvest, as for grain corn). High crop-residue mulches resulted from NT ÷ R (77–97% of soil surface covered), RT + R (45–92%), and at times NT−R (8–35%), potentially protecting the soil from erosive forces. Seedling emergence was delayed (1992, 1993) or partly suppressed (1994) in NT + R, and was also delayed in CT + R in 1992 and 1993, and in CT−R and RT ÷ R in 1993. Final populations were affected only in 1994. In − R (silage) plots, yields with NT and RT were either greater (1992) the same as their CT counterparts. On + R (grain) plots, grain, stover, and total yields were lower with NT in 1992 and 1994, due in part to difficulties in planting through the residue mulch, while RT reduced grain, stover, and total yields in 1992 and stover and total yields in 1993. Thus, for silage-corn production, NT and RT may offer economically viable alternatives to CT, although the use of disking for a RT system provides almost no protective residue cover. In continuous grain corn, high residue buildup with NT and RT requires special attention to seeding technique or yield losses may result.

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