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Published May 19, 2006 | By admin


University of Illinois


Costs and Fuel Use for Alternative Tillage Systems


Recent increases in fuel and new equipment prices have again focused attention on alternative tillage systems. In this paper, costs are examined for two systems that have little tillage and two systems that rely on tillage. One of the “low” tillage systems is strip tillage, a system in which a strip is cleared when nitrogen is applied, thereby allowing the strip to warm-up faster in the spring and allowing earlier planting than a no-tillage system. One of the “tillage” systems relies on a v-ripper to perform primary tillage. The ripper performs deep tillage, thereby mixing organic matter in the hopes of increasing yields. Results indicate that the two “low” tillage systems have about $9.50 per acre less costs and between 1 and 2 gallons less fuel use than the two “tillage” systems.



Estimating Costs for Alternative Tillage Systems



Costs are estimated for four systems representing choices farmers are considering:



1. Strip-till. The strip-till system has no tillage except for an application of anhydrous ammonia. During the ammonia application, a “strip” of bare land is left in which corn will be planted. The strip is accomplished by adding coulters and/or sweeps on the toolbar used to apply anhydrous ammonia.


2. No-till. The no-till system does not have any tillage operations. There are, however, other field operations performed including fertilizer and chemical applications, planting, and combining.


3.Typical-till. The “typical” system uses a field cultivator to perform a secondary tillage pass prior to planting. In addition, a chisel plow operation is performed after harvest on land previously planted to corn.


4.Deep-till. The “deep” tillage system is the same as the typical system, except that the chisel plowing is replaced with v-ripping. The v-ripper is meant to represent a deeper operation than the



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