[Market-farming] Chisel Plow

bcluton at aol.com bcluton at aol.com
Mon Aug 25 16:50:37 EDT 2008

We've used a chisel plow in various fashions and with various results.  

I don't think a chisel plow will work very well for the situation you've described.  The standing crop is; A) not going to be very effectively killed. B) The chisel is likely to drag great gobs of plant material along with it and depending on the tractor, implement weight, and downforce exerted it will drive itself right out of the soil.  

Some chisels that are designed for higher residue soils have a coulter in front of the shank this would probably help reduce effect B.  There are also units that follow the chisel shank with an aggressive sweep shank.  These would help get you more "killage" with your tillage.

If we wanted to chisel a field with a great deal of plant material we'd probably opt for mowing first and/or discing but we try to minimize that in general.  If you have a living cover crop you're still going to have a lot of crop survival.  The more closely spaced the shanks and the more aggressive the shanks the more cover crop you'll kill.

As we've moved to tillage that attempts to reduce the moldboard we've found that we're better off utilizing cover crops that winter kill.  Oats or Sorgum Sudan seem to hold promise in our area.  We can chisel and the follow up with either a field cultivator or disc in the spring and pretty quickly get a fairly good seed bed.

Alternatively we'll use overwintered covers (or summer covers) and=2
0accept some level of cover crop recovery and less "finished" bed prep if we're planting competitive species and/or species that are transplanted and subsequently followed up with fairly intensive tractor cultivation.  A quick example might be a field moving from mixed grass and legume sod into a mid-season brassica or tomatoes and then into a fall cover like oats that will winter kill the next spring the field is usually in nice shape for working an early seed bed for direct seeded crops.  

We're always wishing we had more acres to rotate and cover crop and often dreaming of different equipment but irregardless of what we're working with we've begun to conceptualize rotating our tillage in the same fashion as rotating our crops.  There is no absolute answer.


-----Original Message-----
From: Jason Jones <JJones at thehomestead.org>
To: Market Farming <market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Mon, 25 Aug 2008 1:04 pm
Subject: [Market-farming] (no subject)

Is anyone using a chisel plow for primary tillage?  If so, how does it
do with standing cover crops?  For example, when I have a rye / vetch
cover that I decide not to mow before incorporating, I use the moldboard
to knock the cover down.  I have a feeling the chisel would not have a
similar impact and am curious what the outcome would be on a standing
crop like that.  Please let me know your experiences with a chisel plow
and compare it to other types of plows you have or have used.  Thanks,=0

Jason Jones
Farm Manager
JJones at TheHomestead.org
(515) 957-3361

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