More often than not, harvest will yield field ruts in addition to grain, especially after Iowa’s record-setting September rains. Before managing these ruts with tillage, farmers should consider several factors, said State Agronomist Barb Stewart of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Des Moines.
Before performing any tillage, first double check if this operation would still meet highly erodible land conservation compliance requirements. “When in doubt, please visit your local NRCS office,” said Stewart.
Second, wait as long as possible to start tillage operations, so the soil can dry out as much as possible. Perform tillage operations when the soil at or just above the tillage operating depth is dry enough to prevent soil smearing and compaction. Iowa State University Agricultural Engineer Mark Hanna recommends the following for assessing soil moisture conditions: