Spring Tillage vs Fall Tillage: Which is Better?


Spring tillage vs. fall tillage which is better? It is the question the American farmers frequently ask. To get a detailed answer read this blog till the end. Kelly Tillage is here to explain in detail the best timing for tilling. 

However, we will begin with what tillage is, why it’s necessary and the equipment used for spring tillage and fall tillage, to have a clearer understanding.  

What is Tillage 

Tillage is a farming technique used to get the soil ready for planting crops. It includes a mechanical process designed to break up, aerate, or blend the soil in order to establish an ideal seedbed for planting.

Why is Tillage Important? 

Tillage is a crucial practice in farming, especially during the fall season. It involves loosening and blackening the soil, which serves several essential purposes for successful crop management. 

Firstly, it accelerates the drying process of the soil in preparation for spring planting, enabling farmers to get a head start on the next season’s crops. 

Secondly, it facilitates the optimal spread of roots for crops, ensuring they can access the necessary nutrients and moisture. Additionally, it promotes soil aeration, which is vital for root health and overall plant growth. 

Furthermore, the process of tilling helps to eliminate weeds by chopping and killing them, reducing competition for resources. 

Lastly, it allows for the effective incorporation of organic materials and fertilizers into the soil, enhancing its fertility and ensuring maximum harvest. 

Equipment for Spring Tillage 

Kelly farm equipment excels at performing shallow/reduced tillage during both the fall and spring seasons.

Kelly 12X Disc Harrow: Shallow Depth, Deep Impact 

Kelly 12X Diamond Harrow excels at smoothing and leveling soil like no other. With a width of 12 feet and a digging depth of approximately 2 inches, it effectively addresses the challenge of drying out those difficult-to-reach areas in wet fields during the spring season.

Easy-Pulling Versatility 

It is a versatile farm machinery that excels in managing wet fields during spring season, levees, farm roads, and fallow ground, consistently delivering outstanding performance day in and day out, year after year. 

It offers compatibility with a diverse selection of Kelly Disc options, each designed with a distinct purpose. Whether you need to combat weeds, prepare a well-structured seedbed, level out wheel ruts, or efficiently mulch crop residue, this farm accomplishes it all with ease, with just 60-80 horsepower.

24 Months Warranty Coverage 

The farm equipment comes with complete transparency in pricing – no hidden costs. Featuring sealed bearings and a robust steel frame, it’s built to withstand any challenge you throw its way. 

And in the unlikely event it doesn’t, you can have peace of mind knowing our top-notch warranty program covers most ground-engaging tools for up to 50,000 acres of work.

Equipment for Fall Tillage 

6216 Disc Harrow 

It is a robust diamond harrow designed for handling tough tasks during the fall season. Featuring two drawbar cylinders, load-sharing axles, and the option for additional outer wing dual wheels, this heavy-duty model boasts exceptional durability. 

Moreover, it offers increased module clearance, making it capable of easily traversing over soil banks.

Factors to Consider When Deciding Tillage Practice

When deciding on tillage practices, two primary factors to take into account during the fall and spring seasons are soil conditions and management strategies. 

Soil Conditions 

Soil conditions during fall and spring seasons, including drainage, topsoil depth, slope, organic matter, and texture, significantly affect the success of tillage systems and their impact on soil quality, productivity, and water quality.

Read also: Different types of tillage systems 

Soil Management

It includes a series of critical decisions. 

These decisions are of great significance which are residue management, crop rotation, installation of tile drains to handle excessive soil moisture, the fertilizer program, soil testing, selecting crop hybrids suited for the specific region within the state, and implementing an insect and disease control program. 

These decisions collectively play an important role in determining the degree of success in crop production. These two essential factors must be taken into account to achieve the desired outcomes of any tillage system.

Factors Influencing Spring Tillage vs.Fall Tillage: Which is Better?

The choice between fall and spring tillage is influenced by various uncontrollable factors. Soil moisture levels and soil temperature are the primary determinants. 

These two variables can greatly affect soil fracturing, tillage depth, clod size, and the degree of soil compaction. As a result, both of these factors play a crucial role in shaping tillage practices, which, in turn, impact crop yield and soil quality.

In spring, the soil moisture is often at or above its maximum holding capacity. When the soil moisture exceeds this capacity, any activities like harvesting or tilling can lead to severe soil compaction.

 It is because when the soil becomes too saturated with moisture, it’s like a sponge filled with water – if you press down on it, it can become hard. 

Tilling the soil in springtime can pose several challenges. It may result in soil compaction, prove less effective in breaking up soil due to excessive moisture, potentially lead to soil clumping, and create larger soil clods. These issues collectively have a detrimental impact, reducing both crop yields and soil quality. 

Fall tillage is a preferred and best choice due to several key advantages. During this season, soil moisture levels are typically below field capacity, reducing the risk of soil compaction. Moreover, the temperature of the soil remains within a suitable range for effective tillage. 

However, it’s important to note that as temperatures drop to freezing, the soil becomes more challenging to work with because the presence of solid water (ice) hinders the soil from breaking into smaller clods.

Therefore, while fall tillage offers many benefits, it’s crucial to time it carefully, avoiding the freezing point to ensure optimal soil condition and, ultimately, better yield performance.


The choice between spring tillage and fall tillage depends on various factors, including climate, soil type, and specific crop requirements. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Farmers should consider their local conditions and goals when deciding the most suitable tillage timing for their agricultural practices.