Manage Field Residues Post-Harvest

In conditions when crops thrive and yields break records, field residues tend to make their own mark. Considering the performance of this year’s crops, residues will be one factor to watch this fall.

Corn and wheat are two crops known for producing significant residues, and the surface residue has its benefits. For example, the Illinois Soybean Association has reported that a residual cover can control erosion and hold nutrients in place. This story from Successful Farming shares that residues also may aid water capture and retention.

Too much residue, however, can create some problems, particularly as growers prepare for the following year. With residual cover, soils in the spring may warm less quickly and stay wet longer, according to the Illinois Soybean Association. A scenario like this may delay planting. During planting, excessive residue may challenge equipment operations. Plus, field residue may harbor soil-borne diseases.

Producers have several residue management strategies to consider. They include chopping stalks or incorporating residues using tillage. In other cases, livestock may benefit from crop residues if producers elect to bale those residues and use them as a winter feed. Some residues may also have biofuels applications.

Another alternative involves creating a suitable environment for soil microbial life that can degrade the residues and recycle nutrients back into crop acreage. Humic and fulvic acids found in Dinosaur Dirt can support field residue degradation. As a soluble carbon source, Dinosaur Dirt supplies energy to soil microbial life. However, not only would soluble carbon in Dinosaur Dirt serve as a food source for those microbes, but field residues would also be fair game in the soil microbial life’s diet. Ultimately, soil biology feeding on the residues would contribute to residue breakdown. Essentially, Dinosaur Dirt can help to jump start the process.

In terms of recycling nutrients, corn stover can provide good nutrient value that’s worth the effort to recycle, too. This guide from Ag PhD estimates nutrient removal attributed to corn grain and corn stover. Based on it, a 200-bushel corn crop’s stover would remove 90 pounds of nitrogen, 32 pounds of phosphate and 220 pounds of potassium.

After harvest, we at recommend adding Dinosaur Dirt as a soil amendment to expedite residue breakdown and improve overall soil health. In this video, Kent Kauffman of shares more recommendations about using products this fall for controlling field residues.

If you have questions about managing field residues or using Dinosaur Dirt, then please contact me anytime.

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