No-Till, Cover Crops Improve Soil Health for Increased Profits

Achieving 300 bushel corn doesn’t necessarily mean maximum profits, says Illinois grower Jeff Martin.

Pictured Above: SOIL LIKE A SPONGE. Mount Pulaski, Ill., farmer Jeff Martin uses no-till, strip-till, cover crops and compost extracts to attain soil that favors aerobic, beneficial microbes, mycorrhizal fungi and nutrient cycling, taking a whole system approach

For no-tiller and strip-tiller Jeff Martin, being profitable is his number one goal.

“In the agriculture industry today, bankers, chemical reps, seed dealers and agronomists tell farmers how to get more yield, yet most farmers are struggling at making more money,” says Martin. “Nevertheless, farmers continue listening to people who tell them how to spend more, but not how to be more profitable.”

Martin’s 8,000-acre operation, in Mount Pulaski, Ill., employs 2 full-time employees and has been utilizing no-till for 25 years. 

“We need to be testing everything that we do, whether it’s what we have been doing for 20 years and is conventional, or what we are doing today,” he says. 

Soil Health Key to Profit 

The goal for Martin’s operation is to be profitable with corn at the 300 bushel level. He views soil health as the key to profitable farming today.

How do farm profits correlate to soil health? According to Martin, growers have the wrong expectations for their soils.


  • The soil provides 17 essential nutrients to plants, but the plant needs more than 70 nutrients in the soil to make the plant successful. If those nutrients are not in balance, it affects another part of the system. 

  • Healthy soil can decompose toxins, salted fertilizers and pesticides.

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Sarah hill web

Sarah Hill

Sarah Hill is associate editor for the ag division, contributing primarily to Precision Farming Dealer, Strip-Till Farmer, No-Till Farmer and Cover Crop Strategies. Hill has a farm background and graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in Ag Journalism and a minor in Animal Science. She has previously served as managing editor of DairyBusiness and is a member of the National Agri-Marketing Association and American Ag Editors’ Association.

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