No-till & Strip-till

Full-width tillage, disturbing of the soil surface in preparation for spring planting, leaves Iowa’s productive topsoil and its rich nutrients vulnerable to erosion by wind and water. No-tillage and strip-tillage systems better protect the soil from erosion by minimizing soil surface disturbance.

In a no-tillage system, crops are sown into undisturbed soil with plant residue on the surface. In Iowa, no-tillage is recommended for planting soybean following corn, for planting corn following soybean on well-drained soils, and for any rotation on moderately sloped fields.

In a strip-tillage system, more than two-thirds of the row width is left undisturbed, and the remaining strip is tilled to create a seedbed for spring planting. In Iowa, strip-tillage is recommended for corn production in north central and central Iowa on poorly drained soils and low-sloped fields.

Source: ISU, 2022

Beans no-till planted into corn stalks


Corn no-till planted into corn stalks


10 Ways to leave more residue

  1. Follow a crop rotation sequence with higher residue producing crops. Soybeans don't provide the same kind of protection as corn for example.  Also, high yields give more residues.
  2. Wait until spring for tillage operations. This is most important on soybean ground. Fall tilled soybean ground is very vulnerable to wind erosion in late winter and early spring.
  3. Reduce the number of tillage passes. In most cases, this is as important as the type of tillage performed.
  4. Plant rye or wheat as winter cover crops. This is a good option when you are growing low-residue crops such as soybeans.
  5. Set chisels and disks to work shallower. Residues can be buried to the tillage depth.
  6. Stop using the moldboard plow.
  7. Drive slower on tillage operations. Driving faster throws more soil and covers more residue.
  8. Use straight shanks and sweeps on chisel plows instead of twister shanks. Twisted shanks may bury 20 percent more residue.
  9. No-till drill soybeans instead of planting them conventionally. No-till drilling keeps more residue on the soil surface, and generally produces a quicker canopy.
  10. Convert to a no-till system. No-till disturbs residue only in the row.

No-Till Cost-Share Available

Statewide WQI
$10 / ac
Regular EQIP
$11.09 / ac
RCPP (Initiative)
$16.63 / ac
RCPP HU (Highly Underserved)
$19.96 / ac