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Apply Anhydrous Without Shredding Stalks
For Larry Paul it was a matter of overcoming a little tradition and reluctance when he bypassed stalk-shredding before knifing in anhydrous ammonia.
The result was that Paul sliced a full week off his fall fertilizer program. Paul views that week saved as vitally important to his farming operation near Shickley, Neb., which involves about 800 acres of irrigated corn each year. That week gives him more peace of mind in getting anhydrous applied before adverse weather of late fall sets in.
He also appreciates the fuel savings by not shredding. According to SCS figures, energy costs for stalk shredding are about $5 an acre.
"We always shredded stalks because we didn't think we could handle the heavy residues with the anhydrous applicator," Paul says. "It works real well, better than we thought."
The key to making it work in heavier residues is his attention to several smaller but important details, such as taking time to perfectly align the rippled coulters with the shanks on the applicator. "If you're off an inch or two (with the coulters), it makes all the difference in the world," he says.
Paul also avoids the bulk of crop residues lying in the middle of the row by placing anhydrous knives halfway up the ridge, about 4 inches from each row. There is a single knife per row on his eight-row anhydrous rig. "We try to stay as close to the old row as possible without getting right on the old row," according to Paul. "We don't want to plant next spring on top of the fertilizer."
Paul has had success going through residues from corn crops where planting-time plant populations had been 27,000 plants per acre. Even so, he may cut back to a little over 24,000 plants per acre this spring.
Overall, Paul actually believes more residue bunching problems occurred when he did shred. He remembers "chewed up" residues riding and piling up under the shanks.
The anhydrous applicator, with a single knife per row, on 30-inch spacing to match his corn rows, is also equipped with rolling, rippled coulters. That equipment is mounted on a triple toolbar manufactured by Roll-A-Cone. He uses a triple toolbar to get more distance fore to aft between coulters and shanks.
When spring rolls around, Paul wants to be free to start planting corn as his first job. That's why fertilizing is done in the fall.
His planting equipment consists of individual planting units attached to a rotary tiller. The depth of the rotary tiller is set so that the old ridges are leveled and another 1 or 2 in. of soil at the base of ridges is tilled. Since he plants exactly on the old rows, Paul figures going that extra depth with the tiller is needed to chew up old root clumps.
"Those ridges from the previous year are warmer than the sail between rows and that allows the field to be worked earlier," he says.
New ridges are then made at cultivation.
(Story and photos reprinted with permission from the Nebraska Farmer.)

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1985 - Volume #9, Issue #3