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“At the time, there were so many advantages of ridge-till, but there are probably a lot of young people today who don't even realize what we're talking about. But the idea of having an elevated ridge where the corn would be planted the next year, typically 30-inch row spacing, all the tires had to run between those rows.”

-Randall Reeder

Randall Reeder and Frank Lessiter discuss ridge-tilling on this week’s episode of the “No-Till Influencers and Innovators” podcast.

Ridge-tilling involves building ridges in the fall, and then knocking over and planting into the tops of those ridges in the spring. The method pushed weed seeds near the crops into valleys between the ridges, along with residue, where it would be quickly canopied over by the growing crops – usually corn – and help retain water.

The system was promoted by Ernie Behn, the recipient of the 1975 No-Till Farmer of the Year award by No-Till Farmer, among others. Proponents spread the practice throughout the Midwest, and there are still ridge-tillers out there today, though they are few and far in between. 

In this episode of the podcast, Lessiter and Reeder discuss the practice’s advantages, challenges, its departure from the mainstream discussions of conservation agriculture and more.

Watch the VIDEO REPLAY of this podcast.


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Full Transcript

Brian O'Connor:

Welcome to the No-Till Farmer Influencers and Innovators podcast. I'm Brian O'Connor, Lead Content Editor for No-Till Farmer. Source by Sound Agriculture sponsors this podcast about the past, present and future of no-till farming. In today's episode no-till, Farmer/Editor Frank Lessiter speaks with Randall Reeder, retired Ohio State Ag engineer and no-till legend about the history of ridge till farming. Here's Frank and Randall.

Randall Reeder:

 

Let's talk about your experiences years ago with ridge till, and we'll get into what happened to ridge till in the country.

Frank Lessiter:

I inherited a ridge till project research with bridge till chisel plow, maybe one other system up at our Northwest Research branch. I inherited that from Don Eckert and just maintained it. We added no-till years after that. That was in the mid eighties. We added no-till to it and then eventually we tried to add cover crops, but we've got at least 10 to 15 years of ridge till data.

Randall Reeder:

The results looked pretty good, didn't they?

Frank Lessiter:

Yes, they did. There was a debate, and you would understand this, that all plots needed to be planted the same day in order to have good research. Well of course ridge till dried out quicker than the plowed ground. Eventually they decided that, "Okay, we'll plant when it's ready."

One spring, I don't remember the year, but the ridge till got planted about a month earlier than the other plots just because it was dry, and then it led to a lot of rain. That's clearly one of the advantages of ridge tillage.

Randall Reeder:

Maybe a little history. We should go back and talk about how it got started. In late forties and fifties, farmers in Nebraska begin drilling irrigation wells and it began flood irrigating. I think ridge till kind of caught on. Then when they were making ridges for furrow irrigation, and after that they would plow them up or disc them up and then they'd start and build the ridges the next year for furrow irrigation. I think that's how ridge till really got started out in Nebraska.

Frank Lessiter:

Probably so. At the time, there were so many advantages of ridge till that probably a lot of young people today that don't even realize what we're talking about, but the idea of having an elevated ridge where the corn would be planted the next year, typically 30 inch row spacing, all the tires had to run between those rows. Today when we think of the big wide tires on combines and other equipment, you can see the difficulty of doing that. The solution there was if you had had big equipment, you had to split duals 30 inches apart. Then you would scrape off the top of the ridge at planting time.

In other words, there was nothing done to the field after harvest. Then scrape off the top of the ridge, just a very shallow amount right ahead of the planter over the same unit, and plant right on that bare ground. Then maybe twice, it was after the corn came up, you'd cultivate it. Then at the second time when the corn... Well, you'd have to get in to cultivate it the second time before the corn got too tall for the tractor to get through. At that time, you would reform the ridge. That way, you were also knocking down weeds or minimizing weed growth right there in the row because you were covering up a loose ground. That was it. That was the last operation until harvest.

Randall Reeder:

On the second cultivation, how tall would you want your ridge to be?

Frank Lessiter:

Probably some people would say as high as you could get it. At the time you formed it, the top of the ridge would probably be at least six or eight inches higher than the valley in between. What you would like to have in the spring then at planting time after that ridge settles down, you want to have probably at least four or five inch ridge so that after you plant, and this was very important to make sure that after you plant, the row is still higher than the row middle.

Randall Reeder:

Sure. Right.

Frank Lessiter:

These ridges, even with the combine running over to them, they pretty much didn't fall down or come back level in the fall, right?

Randall Reeder:

Well, the combine needed to run between the ridges also, which meant for a lot of combines, that meant split duals. If the rows were 30 inches apart, then the maximum width for tire was about 22 to 24 inches. Interestingly, much of that time, the radial tires came in, but biased tires were much better for the ridges because you didn't want the tire to flatten out like ideally you do now when we're talking about no-till.

Frank Lessiter:

Are there still farmers doing ridge till in Ohio?

Randall Reeder:

Oh, I cannot name one. I don't know.

Frank Lessiter:

One of the problems I always saw was with people that had livestock, when you should be making these two cultivations, you should also be making hay about the same time.

Randall Reeder:

That's a very legitimate concern because at least that second cultivation probably occurred in the middle of June, maybe as late as 1st of July, but more likely early to mid-June.

Frank Lessiter:

Is Ohio State still doing the research on ridge till or has that gone away?

Randall Reeder:

Oh, it's gone away. Actually the plots that I referred to in Northwest Ohio, we switched the ridge till to no-till.

Frank Lessiter:

When did you do this?

Randall Reeder:

I don't remember the year, but it was in 1995 to 2000. I should have looked that up, Frank.

Frank Lessiter:

No, that's okay. That's okay. You had some ridge till field days, and I remember once I joined you on a bus tour to Iowa to look at ridge till, and there was quite a bit of interest in it.

Randall Reeder:

There was. It was and it is a great sys . I've mentioned for quite a while that if you're in organic production, ridge till is much easier to manage than trying to do it with no-till and intensive cover crops to control the weeds. The ridge till has almost an automatic method of weed control, just by doing the practices that we described earlier.

Frank Lessiter:

When you were talking about the ridges being drier and warmer, how much drier and how much warmer might they be than the regular seed bed that was there?

Randall Reeder:

Well, you could have water. I've seen this. You could have water standing in the valley between the ridges and the ground was actually dry enough that you could drive through water in the furrows and plant, and it was ideal condition on the ridge.

Frank Lessiter:

Right. Was it normal to plant? You said you planted some ridge till a month earlier. Was it normal to plant a couple weeks earlier than the other tillage systems or not for a farmer?

Randall Reeder:

No. Probably. Probably more average would've been up to a week earlier.

Frank Lessiter:

What kind of soils did ridge till really work on? Well drained, poorly drained, whatever.

Randall Reeder:

In Northwest Ohio, we've got poorly drained soil unless it's tile drained and it was ideal on that [inaudible 00:08:19] loan.

Frank Lessiter:

One of the interests that you had over the years has been controlled traffic. Is this what got you interested in controlled traffic?

Randall Reeder:

I like that question Frank, because a ridge still requires controlled traffic. You're not allowed to drive on the ridges. So, that was a natural environment. One of the farmers that I worked with in those early days had a white four wheel drive tractor, and here's the best way to describe it, he removed the inside duals. The outside duals, that were single tires at that time, were 10 feet apart. His equipment was all 20 feet wide, everything, combine, sprayer the tractor. Every 10 feet, he had a track and that was a really great system. I did a calculation on it and it was less than 20% of the ground was covered with a track. So, 80% undisturbed.

Frank Lessiter:

How about was ridge till used primarily in corn, or also in soybeans, or both?

Randall Reeder:

It was used in corn/soybean rotation. Back then, it wasn't all that unusual to have soybeans on 30 inch row spacing.

Frank Lessiter:

Sure.

Randall Reeder:

The bushy variety. I've commented, and you probably have too, that what killed or greatly reduced ridge till was the John Deere 750 drill, which meant that you could drill soybeans in a no-till situation on seven inch row spacing. Then Roundup came in, Roundup-ready soybeans. I think those two things more than anything else caused farmers to switch from ridge till where they had to plant soybeans on 30 inch rows, and go to a no-till with corn/soybean rotation with drilled beans.

Frank Lessiter:

Right. Did it take a lot of horsepower to pull a ridge till unit? Maybe an [inaudible 00:10:25]?

Randall Reeder:

I don't remember the horsepower, but it would've been less than a full tillage system.

Frank Lessiter:

Sure, right. Do you think most of those people that were doing ridge till eventually ended up in no-till?

Randall Reeder:

That's my implication of it because they saw the advantage of not doing intensive tillage, so just go to straight no-till. In fact, I know one farmer here in Central Ohio who just went directly from ridge till to no-till, so he still had a little bit of a ridge.

Frank Lessiter:

Sure.

Randall Reeder:

That worked well. Of course, they worked down after a year or two.

Frank Lessiter:

Is wheel-controlled traffic, or wheel traffic, actually catching on these days?

Randall Reeder:

Controlled traffic... I even invented a term called "Per Season" traffic. Unfortunately, it did not catch on. With all the per season agriculture that we have today... Auto steering.

Frank Lessiter:

Sure.

Randall Reeder:

One, you can stay within an inch every trip through the field as just a great situation to adopt controlled-traffic for all the equipment. With ridge till as kind of the background of that, farmers who had the ridge till equipment could easily stay with controlled-traffic if they chose. Now with the auto steering, I can get into some details on that, but you have to have all the equipment match up in width or multiples. If you had a 12 row corn planter, that's 30 feet. Some today are 16, so that's 40 feet, which means...

Let's use the 30 foot for the examples. Then the combine needs to be 12 rows or six, but usually it would be 12 rows for a big farmer then the sprayer would likely be a multiple of 30. It would either be 60, or 90, or maybe even 120 so that the spacing matches up.

Frank Lessiter:

In the early days, we had some mechanical ways of trying to keep the planter on the ridge. It was kind of a forerunner of GPS almost, but it was mechanically. You would add these attachments to your tractor or your ridge till planter. Can you describe what those were? There'd be some people that don't know what we're talking about.

Randall Reeder:

One of them was a pair of V-shaped tires, and that might be at each end in a wide system. Those tires were angled so they would run on each side of a ridge and keep the equipment there. There were a couple others that use a different... Well one, I think, had some type of smaller system like that on each row, but probably the more common was to have two pairs of those tires on the rig, cultivator and planter.

Frank Lessiter:

So what about the use of residue? Some residue got moved. You would move it off the ridge, right?

Randall Reeder:

Right. You were removing, like I said... Let me show you the book. We put out a Conservation Tillage Systems and Management book back in 1992. It was the first publishing. Then the second edition came out in 2000. There's a chapter in here, that's what this slip is for, describing ridge till planting equipment. Paul Yasa, who's still around, [inaudible 00:14:15] University of Nebraska, and George Ream of Minnesota, were the authors of that chapter. I had a full description there of the ridge till system and all the attachments and details about it.

Frank Lessiter:

Paul was like... He was an ag engineer, but George was a fertility guy. Can you talk a little about what were the best fertility programs with ridge till? I mean we got into banding instead of broadcasting, and deep banding, I think.

Randall Reeder:

I think was another key with the controlled-traffic, and now we think about with per season agriculture that we can put fertilizer exactly where we want it in terms of within the row, under the row, or two inches from it, and do that precisely every year. With ridges, you were planting in the same position year after year, so the fertilizer could be placed right there in that ridge. [inaudible 00:15:16] liquid nitrogen, again that was often done at that second... It could be done the first couple of days than more likely at the second cultivation. You just dribbled that liquid nitrogen right beside of the row, and then covered it up with the loose soil with the ridge till equipment. That was all one operation.

Brian O'Connor:

We'll come back to Frank Lessiter and Randall Reeder in a moment. I'd like to first thank our sponsor, Source by Sound Agriculture, for supporting today's podcast. Source from Sound Agriculture unlocks more of the nitrogen and phosphorus in your fields so you can rely less on expensive fertilizers. This full year application has a low use rate and you can mix it into your tank for a free ride into the fields. Check out Source, it's like caffeine for microbes. Learn more at www.Sound.Ag. Before we get back to the podcast, here's Frank Lessiter with some ridge till notes.

Frank Lessiter:

In this week's podcast dealing with ridge till, we also talked about the tires and saw compaction. It brought up a study that Marion Comer had done on his farm in Alpha, Illinois a few years back. He found when corn rows were planted on the center of the rear tire tracks of the tractor, yields averaged 182 bushels per acre with corn. But when corn rows were planted on the edge of the rear tire tracks, you got 184 bushels per acre. There's a two bushel per acre difference just between whether you plant in the center or on the side of the tire track.

Brian O'Connor:

Now back to Frank and Randall.

Frank Lessiter:

From harvest in the fall until planting in the spring, that combine would've put residue on top of the rich. Then you would clear it off with the planter in the spring?

Randall Reeder:

Correct, yeah. At planting time, once the planter went through, there'd probably be maybe a six inch wide strip of bare soil. All the residue would be in the row middles.

Frank Lessiter:

Right, so this more residue in the middles helped hold moisture, helped reduce soil erosion, but the residue over the winter kept erosion at a minimum I think, right?

Randall Reeder:

Correct. The ridge stayed in place. It didn't slough off into the middle. One other point, I think it was Ernie Bain, first time I heard this, a farmer in Iowa, when you scrape off the top of that ridge, you're scraping off any weed seeds that might be there. So, you're getting rid of the seeds that may have fallen on top of the ridge, any weed seeds. Then the cultivation takes care of that.

Frank Lessiter:

If you did have weed seeds, they moved it into the middles and then you got it with the two cultivations.

Randall Reeder:

Right.

Frank Lessiter:

Right. I've been to Ernie's place years ago and he was a big believer in ridge till for many years.

Randall Reeder:

He was a major proponent. He wrote a book on it. Here closer to Ohio, John Alexander who is just across the Indiana border just north of I70, was a big proponent of ridge till.

Frank Lessiter:

If somebody wants to go organic, ridge till still makes sense for them?

Randall Reeder:

It makes a lot of sense to me. You can do it no-till. I know some prominent farmers who are doing organic farming no-till. Rodale promotes it in Pennsylvania. I think the key when you go no-till is to have cover crop planted and probably at least double the amount of seeding rate so that next following spring you're going to have... For example, cereal rye growing tall and would lay down and give you virtually 100% coverage on the soil surface to control the weeds. That's necessary to accomplish that. With ridge till, the way we've just been describing it, you're using a cultivator and after that second cultivation where you rebuilt the ridge, pretty soon the corn, I'll use corn as an example, is going to canopy over so you'll have very little weed growth the rest of the season.

Frank Lessiter:

What happens to these corn roots when you plant in the ridge, when they go down, will they will go out into the valleys, grow out into the valleys?

Randall Reeder:

They mostly grow down, but at a Field Day we dug down clear across the planter. Here's something we didn't even mention yet, but where you have that ridge tail for several years where the wheel tracks are, you'll have a firm compacted layer. The example I'm going to mention here, about six inches deep, number. That's ideal. You're driving on that. So, you want firm ground to drive on. Well interestingly, the corn roots from the rows next to a traffic row go down under that six inches. You don't have any roots in that compacted layer six or seven inches, but they will run down under that. Of course, when you've got corn roots going three, four, five feet deep, they're going to get down into the entire soil profile.

Frank Lessiter:

Right. That's interesting how they would go down into berms until they got below the compacted area, and then they would spread out.

Randall Reeder:

Right.

Frank Lessiter:

Right. One of the things we used to hear from ridge tillers, is they would get mad at no-tillers because we had some no-tillers really bad mouth ridge till. They didn't have any use for cultivation, and they thought they were too many trips and burning too much fuel. Now today, you look at strip till and strip till is doing a number of things that the ridge tillers did. Can you elaborate on that?

Randall Reeder:

At our Farm Science Review, we had three strip till machines that ran there. I talked to one man from Getter who talked about the growing popularity of strip till. Strip till is considered an officially no-till by the USDA NRCS. The thing about strip till is that you're tilling a narrow strip, and that may be... Again, I'm referring to 30 inch wide corn rows, that tilled strip might be eight or 10 inches wide altogether. That's going to be bare ground. It will not be a ridge. At least, it won't be a ridge at planting time. The idea is to keep all that loose soil right there so it doesn't get thrown out away from that strip.

Usually, the strip till equipment will run six to eight inches deep. Ideally today, you would be applying fertilizer with that piece of equipment. So, you're doing two operations at once. Do that in the fall of the year, and then it's ready to plant the next spring. Some people are doing a strip till operation in the spring. In fact, one piece of equipment ran shallow, so only three or four inches deep. It was not intended to break up deeper layers. That was designed in the spring. Here in Eastern Corn Belt, the soil is wet. We get 40 inches of rain.

So, we're waiting until the soil dries out to plant in April or May, whereas in the Great Plains and Nebraska for example, they want to retain all the moisture they possibly can. For us, it's good to have some bare ground there. That's one of the sales points of strip till.

Frank Lessiter:

In the fall, they might be deep banding, say phosphorus. Then they would be building a little ridge. It wouldn't be as high as a ridge till ridge, but they'd be building some kind of ridge. Then they come back in spring, and then you got controlled-traffic that works with strip till.

Randall Reeder:

Right.

Frank Lessiter:

It can, or pretty much. You're not doing any collations and you're banding, you're not broadcasting fertilizer. You're getting it in the strip till ridge, not in the valleys. I've always thought strip till was built around the basics of ridge till to some extent. Some people disagree with me.

Randall Reeder:

No, that's a good observation. I would say because the three strip till rigs that were demonstrated, and almost all of them do have some kind of a rolling basket back, so it breaks up the clods. When it's first done, yes there's a little bit of a ridge there, but it levels out as that loose ground settles down. Here's one of the disadvantages with ridge till, if you've got a two or 3% slope going up and down a slope, you're likely to get erosion in that strip.

I've seen this in places where the soil eroded completely, emptied the strip that was tilled. So you might have a ditch there four or five inches deep. You can also have cover crops with strip till, so it can be a plus. I guess you could do it two ways. You could either drill or aerial apply the cover crop seed before you do the strip till, and then you're just wiping out a small percentage of the cover crop which is going to grow between the strips, or you could even set up a drill so that you were just drilling this cover crop seeds between those strips.

Frank Lessiter:

Besides No-Till Farmer, we have a publication called Strip Till Farmer. We do a benchmark study and the majority of people are building their strips in the fall, but there's some that really believe in building them in the spring. Then we got some farmers that do them both in the fall and spring. Or if they don't get them built in the fall, they build them in the spring. What do you see as the benefits of building strips in the spring? Out of necessity would be one.

Randall Reeder:

Yeah, compared to no-till... Well, let me phrase it this way. If you can't get the strips built in the fall because it gets wet immediately after harvest-

Frank Lessiter:

Sure.

Randall Reeder:

If you can't get them built then you're comparing, "All right, do I just build them in the spring or do I just straight no-till?"

Frank Lessiter:

Right. Right.

Randall Reeder:

The advantage of building a strip in the spring would be having that narrow strip of bare soil to plant into. That ground might dry up a day sooner, and then-

Frank Lessiter:

 

Probably warm up a little quicker, too.

Randall Reeder:

Dry and warm, yes.

Frank Lessiter:

So cover crops probably weren't a good option for ridge till?

Randall Reeder:

I'm trying to think whether anybody... I can't remember anybody using cover crops for ridge till.

Frank Lessiter:

But we've certainly got a number of strip tillers that are doing it.

Randall Reeder:

I do remember there was some experiment. Now this wasn't the research, but I recall seeing some wheat drilled on ridges. Of course, that didn't work very well. It was much more likely to have a corn/soybean rotation or continuous corn.

Frank Lessiter:

Right. Well that was one you... I remember being in Illinois on a couple farms where they were totally ridge tilled, but most of their acreage was continuous corn. They thought they had some real benefits for that. Elevations gave them a chance to control some of this heavy residue, although what we call heavy residue today wasn't what they had for heavy residue in those days.

Randall Reeder:

Right.

Frank Lessiter:

So what's going to happen? Are we going to see some more changes in tillage practices? What's new? What's going to come?

Randall Reeder:

When the price of diesel went up this spring, we saw some farmers that had intended to do tillage in the spring that just went directly to no-till just to save the diesel during the tillage. That's one tendency. I think a more important one, maybe a couple of them, relate to water quality. We mentioned injecting fertilizer instead of spreading it on the surface that. That's a big deal in our Lake Erie watershed where we've got algae problems in the lake. There's a lot of money being invested by state and federal government to help farmers adapt practices. Cover crops and injecting fertilizer are two prime examples, and of course, no-till to keep that phosphorus on the farm in the field where it's supposed to be, not even moving into a two stage ditch for example.

I think we got similar issues in the Mississippi River Valley with the Gulf of Mexico problems, especially with nitrogen. So we've got to get precise rates and in terms of dry fertilizer, get that injected so it's much more likely to connect with soil particles and stay right there in the soil where you put it, right under the row or right near the row.

Frank Lessiter:

We talked a little bit about ridge till and moving heavy corn residue away, particularly with continuous corn. We've had some no-tillers who've tried continuous corn, and we've had no-tillers that really made it work. Then we've had some people say there's too much residue, but they see strip till as a means of moving that residue and letting them do continuous corn.

Randall Reeder:

Strip till farmers probably plant in the same row position, but I think there're several others that would move over into the row middle, so they'd switch 15 inches every year. That way, they are avoiding the corn root balls, but that defeats any possibility of a controlled-traffic system.

Frank Lessiter:

But that also gives them more reason that they need the strip till to move that residue off that new planting area, which was in the valley the year before.

Randall Reeder:

Yeah, that's part of the system and probably the reason they would do strip till, form the strips in the row middles, would be because that residue's easier to handle and move out of the way compared to trying to build a strip right back in the same row position.

Frank Lessiter:

What have I missed talking to you about ridge till, and strip till, and no-till?

Randall Reeder:

I don't know what we missed. I know I talked to Marion Comer recently. He's working with stratification of surface-applied fertilizer, and the problems that you get with that because the fertilizer tends to stay in the top couple of inches and most of the roots are below two inches. With no-till, if we inject the fertilizer, then we're going to get deeper than two inches obviously, and placing it right under the row is ideal in that situation.

Frank Lessiter:

That's a topic that Marion's going to talk to at our National No-Tillage Conference coming up in January. We've already got him signed up to talk about stratification.

Randall Reeder:

We're going to have him speak at our Conservation Tillage Conference in March, March 14th and 15th, too.

Frank Lessiter:

Right. Hey, this has been great. I appreciate you doing this for me.

Randall Reeder:

Okay, well it's always good to reminisce, going back to ridge till days. I just mentioned our Conservation Tillage Conference, That conference began as a ridge till meeting-

Frank Lessiter:

Okay, good.

Randall Reeder:

... back about 1983. It evolved to add no-till about 1990, and became a Conservation Tillage Conference. We've met at Ada, Ohio for 28 or 30 years now.

Frank Lessiter:

I think I remember going to a couple of them early on when it was pretty much ridge till, and it's pretty much conservation tillage today. So, it's strip till, no-till, mulch till, right?

Randall Reeder:

Right, and technology we've added... The official name of the conference now is the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference.

Frank Lessiter:

There you go. There you go. I remember when reminiscing, Conservation Technology Information Center just celebrated their 40th anniversary. I can remember back in the early days it was called Conservation Tillage Information. They maybe 20, 30 years ago changed it to Technology because they wanted to be broader than just Tillage.

Randall Reeder:

We've had several suggestions that we ought to take tillage out of the name, but conservation tillage is an oxymoron, according to [inaudible 00:33:49]. We've got that tradition where we recognize we're talking mainly about no-till these days, and minimizing tillage.

Frank Lessiter:

[inaudible 00:34:02] as example, hold people... We hate to mess with tradition.

Randall Reeder:

Yeah. If there was another word that started with T that we could substitute for Tillage, we'd probably do it.

Frank Lessiter:

We still call it No-Till Farmer. We get somebody once in a while that says, "You need to rename it Regenerative Farming." We're going to stick with no-till.

Randall Reeder:

Just like no-till or conservation tilling, we're constantly evolving and growing and adding cover crops, and then adding livestock especially to get the regenerative. Who knows? It was called Sustainable Agriculture for a while, and now Regenerative is much better than Sustainable or Conservation. Who knows what we'll be calling in 10 or 20 years, Frank.

Frank Lessiter:

We had a speaker at our Strip Till Conference in August in Iowa City, and he said they call it Regenerative Ag, but he said "It's the same thing we've been talking about for 20 years. It just gets a new name once in a while."

Randall Reeder:

Right.

Frank Lessiter:

He said, "In the old days, we called it Sustainable Ag," like that.

Brian O'Connor:

That was Frank Lessiter and Randall Reeder talking about ridge till farming. Before we close out today's episode, here's Frank Lessiter one more time.

Frank Lessiter:

We keep talking about earlier and earlier planting, and it's also come up recently on whether you should plant soybeans before you plant corn. There're some concepts dealing with earlier planting that haven't materialized to the extent that was predicted several decades ago. One of them was polymer-coated seed that was in corn and soybeans. It could be no-tilled in early April in a cold, moist ground. With this protective coating, germination would be delayed for a few weeks until the soil reaches the right temperature.

This earlier planning concept offered a way to spread out a farmer's critical labor needs during a critical spring season. Some Canadian growers have successfully seeded polymer-coated canola in the fall when temperatures were as low as 10 degrees. It's helped many of Western Canada's no-tillers shift to fall seeded crops that previously couldn't survive severe winter weather. The polymer-coated seed thing, it was kind of exciting a couple decades ago. It hasn't panned out, and we haven't heard much about it lately.

Brian O'Connor:

That's it for this episode of the No-Till Farmer Influencers and Innovators podcast. Thanks to our sponsor, Source by Sound Agriculture, for helping to make the series possible. You can find more podcasts about no-till topics and strategies at No-TillFarmer.com/podcast. A transcript of this episode should be the available there shortly. For Frank and our entire staff at No-Till Farmer, I'm Brian O'Connor. Thanks for listening.