Tillage is essentially eliminated with a no-till system. Crop seed is placed in a narrow strip opened with a coulter, disk seed-furrow opener, or hoe opener. With little or no modification, most planters can be used in no-till systems. Common attachments include coulters, stronger down pressure springs, and extra weight for better penetration. By disturbing only a narrow slot in the residue-covered soil, excellent erosion control is achieved. Compared to other tillage systems, no-till also minimizes fuel and labor requirements.
Do not shred standing residue prior to planting. Planters, drills, and cultivators perform better when residue is standing and attached to the soil, rather than unattached and lying flat.
No-till requires surface application of preemerge or postemerge herbicides for weed control. One or two properly timed applications may be necessary. To provide more dependable herbicide performance for later planted crops (e.g. grain, sorghum, soybeans) apply an early preplant residual herbicide at one-half to two-thirds rate early in the spring when the probability of rainfall for incorporation is high. This application often eliminates the need for a burndown herbicide and because weeds are controlled early in the growing season, soil moisture losses are reduced. For full season weed control, use a second lighter preemerge herbicide application at planting, a postemerge treatment, or crop cultivation. Equip cultivators to handle residue without clogging.
No-till planting is well suited to many soils. Residue, when uniformly spread, increases water infiltration and reduces soil moisture evaporation.
Using no-till in poorly drained soils covered with large amounts of residue, delays soil warming and drying in the early spring, which delays germination and emergence. When colder, wetter soils are a concern with early planting dates, use no-till planter attachments designed to move residue, but not soil, away from the row. Fall strip-till facilitates warming and drying of the row area and may be a better choice.