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What I've Learned from No-Tilling: Taking No-Till Diversity Beyond the Annual Cycle

Wildflowers, perennial grasses, intercropped cover crops and more have this Idaho farm leading the pack in crop diversity.


Pictured Above: Wayne and Jacie Jensen

Keeping soil in place in the Palouse can be a real challenge, one we haven’t always been the best at meeting. The growing season is short, and slopes can be as steep as 40-plus degrees. To put that in perspective, standard staircases sit at 30-35 degrees. No-till helped slow the constant downhill shift of soil, but we’re working to not just downshift, but fully engage the brakes on soil movement while improving soil health.

Keeping soil covered with residue cover crops is key. Cover crops may prove part of the solution, but at one time cover crops were a big part of the soil erosion problem. 

As a kid I remember growing green manure crops for nitrogen (N) and then plowing them down and summer fallowing the fields. We would work the ground again and again, pulverizing the soil. The erosion was horrible, huge ditches would form on the hillsides with rain and snowmelt. 

The situation improved with the advent of synthetic fertilizer which stopped the green manure crops. We then added peas to our rotation, which reduced summer fallow. It got even better when I switched from moldboard plowing and rod weeding to no-till on some of my acres starting in the 1980s.

Check The Specs...

NAME: Wayne and Jacie Jensen

FARM: Thorn Creek Native Seed Farm

LOCATION: Genesee, Idaho

YEARS NO-TILLING: 36

ACRES: 5,000

CROPS: Wheat, barley, lentils, garbanzo beans, peas, canola, perennial grasses, alfalfa, clover, wildflowers

We’re now 100% no-till, and…

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Martha mintz new

Martha Mintz

Since 2011, Martha has authored the highly popular “What I’ve Learned About No-Till” series that has appeared in every issue of No-Till Farmer since August of 2002.


Growing up on a cattle ranch in southeastern Montana, Martha is a talented ag writer and photographer who lives with her family in Billings, Montana.

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