And now, how do you prepare the soil?

Next spring, several producers will be tempted to fall back on direct sowing for lack of being able to do their usual soil preparation

With the delay in harvesting, many producers are left wondering what soil preparation they can do in preparation for planting in 2020. The soils are waterlogged and will likely remain so for the rest of the fall. Difficult, under the circumstances, to imagine doing a good primary job. Only the plow is usable, but that would move the problem, because the risk is great that it creates a plowing sole and that the tractor causes a severe degradation of the soil structure.

This pushes us back to the spring, where there are theoretically two scenarios: opt for direct seeding or do tillage. Precisely, the agronomist Sylvie Thibaudeau does not hide her concern at the possibility that several producers who normally carry out soil preparation opt exceptionally for direct seeding, and come out disappointed with their experience. “They should not expect the results of a direct sowing done in the rules of the art,” warns the adviser of the agro-environmental club of the war basin, in Monteregie-Ouest.

“No-till is not a troubleshooting technique,” she explains. It is a technique that requires a transition over a few years, depending on the condition of the soil at the start. To be successful in the short term, you need well-structured soil with good biological activity.”

The agrologist considers it inappropriate to make a general recommendation as to the approach to be adopted next spring. “There are too many factors that could influence a producer’s decision: the type of soil, the weather, the equipment available, etc.,” she says. It is case by case and I would even say that it is field by field.”

In the presence of traces or a significant amount of residue, tillage will be necessary. To do this, Sylvie Thibaudeau says she has a preference for disc instruments rather than those with teeth, because they result in less smoothing. “Ideally, crenellated discs with a good diameter,” she says.

On a return of soybeans and in the absence of traces, she mentions the vibro among the equipment to be considered. On the other hand, on a return of corn, she considers that this instrument does not work deep enough to mix the residue well with the soil and constitute an adequate seedbed.

And if a field has not been damaged at harvest and its soil has a good structure, could we then consider direct sowing? “In the circumstances, this could be the best compromise,” she replied after a brief moment of reflection. Direct sowing should not be systematically ruled out.”