An evaluation of several minimum tillage seed drills and nitrogen fertilizer placements on seedling development, yield, and quality of wheat
Seeding and fertilizing equipment has undergone a dramatic evolution since Western Canada was first settled. Researchers and farmers developed practical ways to seed and fertilize into well tilled seedbeds. Nitrogen fertilizer may be applied by pre-plant deep banding, seed-placing, side-banding at seeding time, or broadcasting either before or after seeding. Stand establishment may be reduced by seed placing more than 28 kg/ha urea or 45 kg/ha ammonium nitrate (Anonymous, 1986). Minimum and zero tillage seeding has gained considerable interest in the past decade for a number of reasons. These include the availability of effective weed control chemicals, concern about soil erosion, and high operating costs of intensive tillage. There has also been an effective research and extension program demonstrating benefits of reduced tillage, and assisting farmers in adapting cost effective conservation practices. The number of fertilizing options in minimum tillage crop production systems is quite limited. Pre-plant deep banding treatments are not suitable, as these banding operations leave uneven seedbed conditions that are less than optimal for seedling establishment. Additionally, a separate field operation is required to deep band, which is costly in terms of time, moisture, and the large draft requirement of the deep banding equipment. Fertilizer broadcast before direct seeding is not likely to be adequately incorporated, as most direct drilling equipment causes minimum soil disturbance. The risk of volatilization losses from post-plant broadcast treatments are well documented (Harapiak et al, 1986). The most desirable fertilizing option in terms of seedbed condition, fertilizer efficiency and fuel efficiency, is to side-band at seeding time. The present study was set out with two major objectives. The first was to evaluate seeding with different seed opener designs (offset double disc, hoe, sweep and one-way discer) in. terms of stand establishment. The second objective was to determine the relative benefits and costs of banding fertilizer at different depths.
Soils and Crops Workshop