The Triplett-Van Doren research plots were established in 1962 to determine how much, if any, tillage was needed to obtain satisfactory crop yields. This is one of the oldest agronomic trials in the USA evaluating tillage and crop rotation practices. Since the establishment of the plots, the conservation movement in agriculture has increased. Between 35-40% of cropland in the United States consisting of eight major crops is now under no-till. We have maintained the no-till research plots to continue to address relevant research questions in conservation agriculture concerning tillage. This research is conducted at two sites in Ohio: Wooster (Snyder Farm) and Hoytville (Northwest Research Station). We study tillage (no-till, chisel, and moldboard plow) and crop rotations (continuous corn, corn-soybean, and corn-oat-hay).
Advantages of No-till
- Reduced runoff and erosion
- Improved soil water storage
- Requires less energy, time, and labor
- Increased carbon storage
- Improved soil health
There are two sites as part of this experiment that were started in 1962 near Wooster, Ohio, USA (40◦ 45′ N, 81◦ 54′ W) and in 1963 near Hoytville, Ohio, USA (40◦45′ N, 81◦54′ W) (Dick et al., 2013) by Drs. David M. Van Doren and Glover B. Triplett. The experiment compares three levels of tillage intensity—no-tillage, chisel, and moldboard, and three crop rotations—continuous-corn, 2-year corn-soybean, and 3-year corn-forage-forage—evaluated at two sites with contrasting soil characteristics (silt-loam in Wooster versus clay-loam in Hoytville).
Sites and soils
At Wooster, the dominant soil series is the Wooster silt loam (fine-loamy, mixed, active, mesic Oxyaquic Fragiudalfs). The parent material is low-lime glacial till, with a sporadic loess mantle of up to 51 cm thickness, and contains a fragipan at a depth ranging from 45 to 100 cm. This silt loam is well drained, having moderate permeability above the fragipan and moderate to slow permeability in the fragipan (USDA-SCS, 1984), with a slope ranging from 2 to 6 %, and a low to no shrink-swell potential (Soil Survey Staff, 2013a). Soil particle size (texture) distributions (0− 30 cm) were between 21–25 % for sand, 60–61 % for silt, and 15–18 % for clay (Dick et al., 1986a). Soil pH (1:1 soil weigh to water volume ratio) ranged from 5.4–6.8 (0− 30 cm). Native vegetation was hardwood forest (red, white and black oak) and relic forest remnants occur along creeks and in small woodlots (USDA-SCS, 1984).
At Hoytville, the dominant soil series is the Hoytville clay loam (fine, illitic, mesic Mollic Epiaqualfs) developed on glacial-lacustrine deposits (glacial till reworked by wave action on a nearly lake plain level) (USDA-SCS, 1973). This clay loam is a very deep, poorly drained soil, with a slope ranging from 0 to 1 %, and high shrink-swell potential (Soil Survey Staff, 2013b). Subsurface tile drainage was installed in the Hoytville site nine-years before the experiment started, with 10 cm inside-diameter tile drains placed at 17 m spacing and 1.2–1.4 m depth (Dick et al., 1986b). Soil particle size (texture) distributions (0− 25 cm) were between 16–21 % for sand, 38–42 % for silt, and 37–46 % for clay (Dick et al., 1986b). Soil pH ranged from 4.3–7.5 (0− 30 cm). The original vegetation was a deciduous swamp forest (USDA-SCS, 1973).
Both locations have a humid continental climate, with a mean annual air temperature of 10.7 and 9.9 ◦C and average annual precipitation of 874 mm and 1018 mm at the Hoytville and Wooster sites, respectively (Arguez et al., 2010a, 2010b). More details about agronomic practices are described below and more information is available in the Triplett-Van Doren Tillage and Crop Rotation website (https://kb.osu.edu/handle/1811/55716).
Experimental design and treatments
The experiments were established in a two-way factorial design with three levels of tillage intensity and three crop rotations in a randomized complete block design with three replications. Tillage systems were (1) no-tillage, where the residue from previous years’ crops are left on the field and a single slot opening is used during planting; (2) chisel, a minimum tillage using a paraplow (1962–1983) and a chisel plow (1984-present) to loosen the soil while leaving > 30 % of the previous year’s residue at the soil surface; and (3) moldboard, a plow tillage where a moldboard plow was used to invert the soil to a depth of about 20 cm, thus burying most of the residues. Historically, tillage has been conducted during spring in the Wooster silt loam and during fall in the Hoytville clay loam. Secondary tillage operations occur in moldboard and chisel systems. Crop rotations are (1) continuous-corn (Zea mays L.); (2) 2-year corn and soybean (Glycine max L.) rotation; and (3) 3-year corn and oat (Avena sativa L.) and/or alfalfa (Medicago sativa) or clover (Trifolium repens L.) rotation. At harvest, crop residue was left in the field for corn, soybeans, and oats, while alfalfa and clover were cut for hay typically 2–3 times a year. With minor modifications over the years, these treatments have been continuously maintained since their beginning in 1962 (Wooster) and 1963 (Hoytville) (Dick et al., 2013). The Wooster experimental unit or individual plot dimensions were 22.3 m by 4.3 m, while in Hoytville experimental units were 30.5 m by 6.4 m.
Arguez, A., Durre, I., Applequist, S., Squires, M., Vose, R., Yin, X., Bilotta, R., 2010a. NOAA’s U.S. Climate Normals (1981-2010). Retrieved 2017-08-16. NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, Station: OH Hoytville 2 NE.
Arguez, A., Durre, I., Applequist, S., Squires, M., Vose, R., Yin, X., Bilotta, R., 2010b. NOAA’s U.S. Climate Normals (1981-2010). Retrieved 2017-08-16. NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, Station: OH Wooster Exp Stn.
Dick, W.A., Van Doren Jr., D.M., Triplett, G.B., Henry, J.E., 1986a. Influence of long-term tillage and rotation combinations on crop yields and selected soil parameters. Results Obtained for a Typic Fragiudulf Soil. The Ohio State University, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Wooster, Ohio, p. 34. Research Bulletin ll81.
Dick, W.A., Van Doren Jr., D.M., Triplett, G.B., Henry, J.E., 1986b. Influence of long-term tillage and rotation combinations on crop yields and selected soil parameters. Results
Obtained for a Mollic Ochraqualf Soil. Research Bulletin 1180. The Ohio State University Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Wooster, Ohio, 30 p.
Dick, W.A., Triplett, G.B., Van Doren Jr., D.M., 2013. Triplett-Van Doren Long-term Tillage and Crop Rotation Data (Accessed 15 December 2019). Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Wooster, Ohio. https://kb.osu.edu/handle/1811/55716.
Soil Survey Staff, 2013a. Web Soil Survey (Accessed 15 April 2013). USDA-NRCS. https://websoilsurvey.sc.egov.usda.gov.
Soil Survey Staff, 2013b. Official Soil Series Descriptions (Accessed December 2019). USDA-NRCS. https://soilseries.sc.egov.usda.gov.
More than 70 publications have resulted from the research done in the no-till plots. A summary of published studies from these sites can be found here.