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What I've Learned from No-Tilling: Carbon is King — and Rising Fast — with Constant Cropping

Josh Lloyd grows crops year-round to capture carbon and build topsoil that will return yields despite lower inputs.

Everyone makes a big deal out of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), but to me, carbon is the key to a profitable and sustainable farm.

I quit spending all my money on grid sampling, fertilizer, and lime. My dollar is best spent growing something. Always growing something. Photosynthesis is the only way to get carbon out of the atmosphere and into my soils where it can be put to good use. That’s why I keep a living root in my soils 100% of the year when possible.

Carbon is on the rise in my soils. I can see it when my shovel turns over rich, dark, living earth where just a decade before there was only lifeless, tan clay. This progress has been achieved through my combined use of no-till, cover crops, planting into green cover, double cropping, carbon-conscious crop rotations and the addition of livestock.

Years of layering in carbon-building strategies have paid off, and I look forward to finding new techniques to take my soils even further in the future. Until then, here’s what I’m doing today. 

Check The Specs...

NAME:Josh Lloyd

LOCATION:Clay Center, Kan.

YEARS NO-TILLING: 22

ACRES: 2,800 acres

CROPS: Winter wheat, grain sorghum, sunflowers, corn, and soybeans

Dirt or Soil

Organic chemistry is the study of carbon. Carbon is life. It gives us water infiltration, water and nutrient storage and nutrient cycling. When I look at an NRCS Soil Survey, it doesn’t show me carbon and topsoil. It shows me the…

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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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