When I was a young soil scientist in Madison County, the debate was still open as to whether or not conservation tillage works. I think that is long settled, but we still sometimes see recreational tillage. You should definitely be looking at the number of trips you are making.
- Do you really need to "size" that residue with a disking or vertical tillage before chisel plowing? I would say not.
- Does the soybean stubble really need primary tillage to plant corn or can you get by with just some vertical tillage or field cultivating?
- Do you need to make that second pass of secondary tillage before planting? The planter will push the clods out of the way.
- If your field was ready to plant and you get a rain on it, why do you want to till it again? The stale seedbed will be firm and give you a more even stand.
- In the past, researchers have found that soybeans yield best when drilled with no other tillage.
Can you cut back on seed costs? I defer to the seed corn people on their population recommendations. They know what it takes to get the most out of a particular hybrid. Soybeans however can be very forgiving on populations. Research I have seen says that 120,000 to 130,000 soybeans per acre is enough in most instances. Of you are still planting 160,000 try cutting back to 140,000.