Phil Needham, the Kentucty-based wheat agronomist whom Grainews has tapped for ideas over the past few issues, would prefer to see straw and chaff spread over the whole span of the combine cutting width. “I am disappointed if my clients don’t spread residue all the way, and as evenly as possible across the cutting width,” Needham says.
He writes: “With various modifications, this is possible except in windy conditions. The challenge is the chaff, because it’s light and therefore difficult to spread. However, most combines “combine” chaff and straw into one stream which does helps distribution.
“Most producers need to concentrate more on residue management, because it is the core of success within direct seeding. If residue is not distributed evenly, then neither are the nutrients within the residue.
Finally, Needham shares his opinion about tillage. “I am cautious about the use of (residue management) tillage tools, partially because they don’t distribute residue very well, especially chaff, and partially because I believe direct-seeding (with no tillage) is the future. Any tillage may be detrimental because it can accelerate the breakdown of organic matter.”