No-till and Reduced-till Wheat: “Will it Work in the Rolling Plains?”

John W. Sij, Todd A. Baughman, Jason P. Ott
and Brian L. S. Olson (Kansas State Univ.)
Texas AgriLife Research & Extension Center


There are thousands of acres of conventional-till continuous wheat in Texas and Oklahoma where the farmer is either growing the crop mainly for grain, forage, or both. Conventional tillage results in little residue cover during the fallow period of June through September. Wind and water erosion can cause significant soil losses during this time period, and conventional tillage increases carbon loss from the soil. Furthermore, newly established wheat seedlings can be washed out or “blown-out” on conventional-tilled fields, resulting in additional time and expense to the farmer to reestablish the crop. No-till and reduced-till production systems can provide significantly higher levels of crop residue on the soil surface, resulting in decreased wind and water erosion and increased soil organic matter. There are, however, serious reservations about whether no-till or reduced-till wheat will work in this area, especially when wheat is grazed. Concerns about soil compaction due to cattle grazing, the perception of more expensive and sometimes less effective chemical weed control measures when compared with mechanical weed control, and insufficient research demonstrating that no-till and reduced-till systems may work in this area have lead to few farmers adopting these conservation practices. The primary objective of this project is to compare no-till, continuous wheat to reduced-till and conventional-till wheat in a grazed and ungrazed environment. The secondary objective is to evaluate three fertilizer treatments within each tillage treatment in order to maximize the effectiveness of the different tillage systems.

Benefits and outcome of research to Texas wheat producers:

  • Determine the extent of compaction by cattle on no-till or reduced-till ground, and how this possible compaction impacts wheat stand establishment and yield.
  • Document ground residue cover and soil organic matter levels in no-till and conventional-till systems.
  • Generate an economic analysis for each system. $ Determine which fertilizer treatment (if any) optimizes a specific tillage operation.
  • Disseminate results to Rolling Plains’ wheat producers through extension publications, seminars, and workshops and promote conservation farming practices.



Crop Residue after Tillage

Preliminary Results

Annual Report 2002

2003 Results – Power Point Presentation


We wish to recognize The Texas Wheat Board for partial financial support, Rick Hardcastle for use of his DMI, and Keith Rand of Great Plains Manufacturing, Inc. for use of a Great Plains no-till drill.

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