Improve Soil Productivity
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Marion Calmer will pay the 2013 NNTC registration cost for the first five no-tillers that send valid research data from new projects on their farm. No-Till Farmer will match his offer with another five free NNTC registrations for the 21st annual conference. These onfarm research results will also be shared for the benefit of fellow no-tillers.
You've reached the home page for "The No-Till Yardstick." This is your place to get more information about starting your own no-till onfarm research and unlocking secrets to higher no-till profitability.
About This Project
No-Till Farmer and Alpha, Ill., no-tiller and cornhead manufacturer Marion Calmer created this program to further onfarm no-till research across the U.S. Calmer approached No-Till Farmer in 2011 about getting more no-tillers to generate independent farmer research.
Calmer challenged attendees at this winter's National No-Tillage Conference (NNTC) in St. Louis to generate more independent farmer research, believing farmers would see it as having no hidden agenda.
If enough no-tillers participate in these onfarm research projects, a general session or classroom could be set up at a future NNTC to share the results.
Why Do This?
Knowing more about what makes your crops tick, and what increases yields, can help no-tillers reduce input costs, improve soil health, boost yields and increase profits.
Calmer says managing extensive research plots on his own farm requires only one extra day in the fall and spring, and this work netted an extra $50,000 in profits last year. With the 20 hours it took to establish and manage the plots, that's a $2,500-per-hour return on investment.
"The statement I've heard from accountants is that you can't improve on things that you don't measure," Calmer says. "This is one way they can teach themselves, at their own farms, better methods that will bring better environmental conditions and better profits.
"Information generated by farmers, for farmers, is among the most valuable information you can get your hands on. And today, with the guidance systems, planting devices, scales and yield monitors we have, onfarm research is a walk in the park."
Besides learning from your own results, you'll be able to cash in on the data contributed by other no-tillers.
What Should I Research?
Any topic you wish that's important to the profitability of your no-till farm. But here are a couple of examples:
• Bob Bottens of Cambridge, Ill., is geared up to do a replicated nitrogen test with varying planter-applied rates and varying sidedressed rates. He might overlay soil types, soil analysis, tiling and yields by soil type and by nitrogen rate. This would be corn-on-soybean ground that is well drained with pattern tiling. Land located just across the road from this field yielded over 230 bushels of corn per acre last fall, so this will be a good test with high no-till yield potential, he says.
• An attendee of the 2012 NNTC from Ontario is mapping out a soybean population study to evaluate no-till seeding rates ranging from 75,000 to 225,000 plants per acre.
Contact the people below if you have a question about doing your own onfarm research. Also on this page are links to a list of published articles and resources for onfarm research.
• Marion Calmer, Calmer Corn Heads — firstname.lastname@example.org
• Jim Leverich, University of Wisconsin Onfarm Research Coordinator — email@example.com