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Farming the Drought with No-Till Flexibility

Veteran Kansas no-tiller farms around dry High Plains weather, seeking to eliminate summer fallow when possible and using conserved soil moisture to grow something on every acre throughout the season.

Farming 25 miles southeast of Dodge City in southwestern Kansas with limited irrigation, long-time no-tiller Lance Feikert says it’s difficult to set a rotation schedule and stick with it because of rainfall variability. 

In early May 2022, it had been 220 days since Feikert Farms, which covers 3,500 acres of cropland in Ford and Clark Counties, had received an inch or more of rainfall. Meanwhile, conventional-farming irrigators in the area had already planted corn and soybeans after several field trips, a pre-watering and another water application to break the crust.

As fifth-generation producers on the farm, Feikert and his brother, Kyle, were holding off — waiting for a shower to boost the chances of success on 1,600 acres of dryland grain sorghum (milo) stubble they were planning to drill on fields that haven’t seen a plow or disc for 16 years.

“We got three-tenths of an inch of rain in late April and would like to see an inch or two over a couple of days to give us really good moisture,” Feikert said on May 2, noting weather watching is absolutely necessary when your farm has only a pair of center pivots fed by low-producing irrigation wells.

Check The Specs...

NAME: Feikert Farms

LOCATION: Bucklin, Kan.

ACRES: 3,500 cropla

YEARS NO-TILLING: 16

CROPS: Grain sorghum, wheat, barley, oats, cover crops

ANNUAL PRECIPITATION: 18 inches (ranges from 8-24 inches)

PRIMARY SOIL TYPE: Harney (clay-loam)

IRRIGATION: Limited water on two center-pivot circles

LIVESTOCK: 110-head commercial cow/calf herd

“I’m a pessimistic optimist,”…

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Dan crummett 0618

Dan Crummett

Dan Crummett has more than 35 years in regional and national agricultural journalism including editing state farm magazines, web-based machinery reporting and has an interest in no-till and conservation tillage. He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from Oklahoma State Univ.

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