Three Considerations for Residue Management in Corn Fields

October 24, 2022  |  By Tyler Williams, ForGround by Bayer Sustainable Systems Agronomist

Residue on crop fields can provide a host of benefits, such as reducing evaporation or reducing sediment loss to erosion, while potentially adding some challenges to the subsequent crop. To maximize those benefits and minimize the challenges, start managing that residue at harvest.

If you need to manage heavy residue, especially in high corn yield areas, you may need to take a couple extra steps.

1. Make sure residue is being distributed evenly

During harvest, make sure the residue is distributed evenly to the width of the combine head. This will provide more uniform soil conditions at planting next spring. If the residue is “windrowed” behind the combine, the planter will need to plow through heavy residue, and possibly wetter and cooler soil, and then transition to warmer, drier soil where there is no residue. This may cause poor planting performance and uneven emergence.

2. Keep your combine head higher

Having your corn head set higher, leaving a taller stalk, can reduce the amount of overall residue on the ground. Taller stalks can also catch some winter snow, as well as prevent leaves and husks from blowing in the spring, creating those windrows you avoided at harvest.

3. Have you considered alternative options?

Strip-tilling, grazing, or even bailing may be alternative options to reduce the overall amount of residue on the soil surface; however, each of those practices come with a separate set of considerations.

For now, get that combine set to leave the stalks standing upright and get the residue evenly distributed. Then think about your next steps. Is it strip-tilling, grazing, or just waiting for planting season? Either way, important considerations for next year are upon us.

The success of next season’s crop starts at the harvest. No matter where you are on your regenerative agriculture journey, ForGround by Bayer is here to help your operation every step of the way. ForGround is a farmer-first digital platform that can help transform the way farms of all sizes make the transition to sustainable agricultural practices. This program offers growers tools, resources, and discounts, as well as the potential to earn revenue through the Bayer Carbon Program* for the adoption of regenerative practices and gives farmers the opportunity to connect with businesses looking to advance their sustainability and carbon goals.

Residue Management Resources:

*This Bayer Carbon Program described in this material is subject to the current version of the Bayer Carbon-Smart Practices Master Agreement. The information is to aid in the understanding of the Bayer Carbon Program and does not change or modify the Bayer Carbon-Smart Practices Master Agreement in any way. The recommendations in this material should be considered as one reference point and should not be substituted for the professional opinion of agronomists, entomologists or other relevant experts evaluating specific conditions in a given field. Bayer and Bayer Cross are registered trademarks of Bayer Group. ©2022 Bayer Group. All rights reserved.