With many crops, including flax, being a bit shorter this year creates an opportunity to manage flax straw by fine-chopping and uniform spreading. An Agriculture Development Fund (ADF) project that is underway by Drs. Bing Si and Jeff Schoenau, U of S, has shown, so far, that flax straw can be chopped, spread and the flax stubble can be directly seeded into the next spring successfully. This project is looking at residue management systems as well as the effect of a vertical tillage operation.
Fine chopping and uniform spreading of straw and chaff is a critical first step in all zero-till or min-till seeding systems. This critical first step protects the soil from wind erosion and improves moisture conservation while allowing the ease of seeding the next crop while keeping the soil moisture near the surface for that ideal seedbed.
Fine cut straw choppers are now the standard in the industry, allowing the finely chopped straw and chaff to be spread uniformly over the width of the cut. These high performance choppers also require regular maintenance to effectively handle a variety of crop types under variable harvest conditions. Servicing the flails and knives prior to harvest assures that the straw chopper will do the job effectively and efficiently and without down-time during harvest. This is particularly important for flax straw management.
For more information on flax residue management options, see the recent SaskFlax Newsletter, Preparing for Harvest for more tips.