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Growing Food for Crops and Cows with Covers

Minnesota no-tiller Ben Dwire focuses on crop rotation to feed flora and fauna, conserve moisture and suppress weeds.

About 8 years ago, when Ben Dwire learned that no-tilling required less equipment and labor, and could make planting crops as easy as pulling into the field and getting started, he started questioning conventional methods. Dwire and his wife, Kristi, who farm 550 acres near Arco, Minn., turned to Kristi’s father, who no-tills in north central South Dakota, for advice. 

“We had been borrowing a lot of equipment from my dad and brother, who farm nearby,” says Dwire. “As we started buying more of our own equipment, we decided to bite the bullet and go into no-till.” 

It took Dwire 2 years to fully transition to no-till. 

He was the first in his family to no-till. His brother switched to no-till in 2019, and his father now no-tills half of his acres after seeing Dwire’s success.

Crop Rotations Include Covers

Dwire plants a third of his fields with small grains such as food-grade oats or wheat, a third of the fields with corn and a third with food grade soybeans. Food-grade oats go to a processing facility in St. Ansgar, Iowa, where they’re used for Oatly oat milk.

Dwire’s crop rotation includes seeding cover crops on two-thirds of his acres every year. Oats are typically seeded in early April at 3.25-3.5 bushels per acre, for a final stand of 1.3 million plants per acre. They’re interseeded with a red clover cover crop mix to build nitrogen (N) for the next cash crop and to graze his 30 pairs of Red…

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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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