Residue management is a critical factor when planning for the 2023 planting season, according to Beck’s Practical Farm Research (PFR) data.
“Corn fields with excess residue can harbor insects, create emergence issues, and keep soils wetter longer,” said Aaron Carmer, PFR technician at Beck’s. “These are serious issues that can have big implications in the spring if not managed correctly.”
There are two ways to manage residue — mechanical manipulation and applying residue management products. Both can be effective, so the decision might simply come down to what works best for your operation.
In 2017, Beck’s developed the PFR Proven endorsement. For a product or practice to become PFR Proven, it must be tested for three years at multiple locations, provide a positive yield gain each year, and average a positive return on investment over the three-year period.
Beck’s has identified two PFR Proven residue management systems that have continually provided an increase in yield and ROI over three years of testing — the Capello Quasar Chopping Head and the Yetter Stalk Devastator. Both systems work to rupture the stalks so that moisture and oxygen can get into the residue quicker, exposing more of the surface to microbes, biologicals, and moisture. This results in faster residue breakdown and, ultimately, quicker nutrient availability the following growing season.
Capello’s Quasar Chopping Head sizes corn residue much smaller than a traditional head, ripping the stalk apart. The Chopping Head has shown a 14.9 bushels per yield advantage in corn-after-corn rotations and a 2.3 bushels per acre. yield increase in soybean-after-corn rotations.
The Yetter Stalk Devastator has delivered yield advantages of 6.3 bushels per acre. in corn-after-corn rotations. The concept of the Yetter Stalk Devastator is like that of the chopping head, but it is mounted underneath the combine and pushes the stalks over, crushing them. This is beneficial as it reduces damage to tires, tracks, wires, and hydraulic hoses.
While these systems may be costly, farmers should consider their acres to pay off, improved long-term ROI, and the benefits of increased nutrient availability in the soil. Beck’s PFR data shows that it requires 268 acres to pay off the Capello Quasar Chopping Head, while the Yetter Stalk Devastator’s acres to pay off is 317. It’s important to note that these numbers are based on a 12-row head at $4 dollar corn.
When it comes to non-mechanical solutions, Beck’s has identified two PFR Proven products for growers to consider. Res Plus is a dual-action residue management product that contains two components for residue breakdown. Beck’s saw improved degradation and yields in all four years testing this product — with a $13.12 ROI and an 8.7 bushels per acre yield advantage. Robust is PFR Proven with a three-year, $12.06 average ROI advantage and a 6 bushels per acre average yield advantage. Robust contains a unique formulation of plant and soil nutrients designed to feed the microbes in the soil, leading to increased degradation of residue.
“Residue management has always been an important consideration,” said Travis Coleman, field agronomist at Beck’s. “But as we continue using fungicides, stalks decompose much slower thanks to improved plant health and the use of Bt traits.”
In 2022, Beck’s launched “The DIG,” a video series dedicated to breaking down some of Beck’s most popular and profitable PFR studies in a way that is fun, easy to follow, and easy for growers to implement on their own farms. In a recent episode, viewers can learn more about residue management.
Farmers can dig deeper into the data behind these studies by viewing the 2021 PFR Book. Click here to access the results.
For more information about Beck’s PFR, products, services, or dealer network, please visit www.beckshybrids.com or call 800.937.2325.