Curtis Cauley, who farms in Minnesota south of Minneapolis, posed the following question to No-Till Farmer's editors:

"I’m not completely new to no-till but only have used a John Deere 750 drill to plant cover crops. I will have an opportunity this year to run a little more land that may allow me to do a little more no-till work. I plan on planting oats and peas for a baleage crop and coming in right behind that and no-tilling a shorter season soybean at the middle to end of June. I will have access to that same 750 drill, but I’m wondering about drilling vs. planting in a no-till scenario with little residue. I could also run a high-speed disc and use a conventional planter, but I don’t want to." 

Our editors asked our 2023 National No-Tillage Conference attendees for their advice, and they shared these insights: 

  • Using a 750 drill should work just fine as long as your residue is not too heavy/thick. We run a similar JD air seeder that uses the same row units as your 750, and it works just fine. Just make sure you have enough weight on the machine to make sure the opener disks penetrate the soil when you use maximum down pressure on the row units. It’s also better to use the drill because narrow beans work better than wider row spacings on your planter especially when you’re planting later in the season. We also go with a population about 25% more than what we would plant with conventional soybeans.
    — Keith Wendte, Effingham County, Ill.
  • I would think a no-till drill would work well in this situation. There shouldn’t really be any residue scattered all over the ground if you’re removing the crop for bales.
    — Darrell Bruggink, No-Till Farmer
  • It would help to know where this grower is located to determine if double cropping is feasible, but most grain growing regions of the U.S. planted in June should provide adequate time for a soybean crop to mature. Below are a few points of advice from my personal experience:
    • Use the JD 750. Narrow rows will help provide better weed control and shade the ground to preserve moisture.
    • Plant soybeans a minimum of 1 inch deep with 1.5 inches being ideal.
    • Increase planting rate by 25% over full season rates. It’s common to plant up to 200,000 seeds per acre on 7.5” rows.
    • Allow some modest regrowth prior to terminal burndown of the oats and peas.
    • Enlist E3 or Xtend soybeans would allow more effective weed control options.
    • Medium or medium full soybean varieties generally provide higher yields than short season varieties. Soybeans are photoperiod sensitive, so a short season variety may give up too early and result in lower yields.
    • Tillage is not advised for many reasons, but mostly loss of moisture and release of carbon dioxide (carbon loss).
      — John Henize, CCA, The Andersons
  • This will work if the fellow with the question is not in Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota or the northern half of Michigan, The season will be too short. Plant the same bean maturity as you normally would plant. You will be planting late but you don't want to shorten the fall fill period with a shorter maturity bean. Soybeans work off of day length, not heat units like corn. I'm going off experience of our area, which is southern Wisconsin (Green County — right on the Illinois border). Also plant about 10-15% heavier than normal, a few extra plants to make up for the shorter season. Because you are planting late, the beans won't get as tall, so they won't lodge. If you can plant them by the third week of June, beans can do quite well. We had some in the area, that had to be replanted last year, they were sprayed with the wrong chemical. Those beans were planted the third week of June and went 50 bushels per acre. If you get into July for planting, getting a crop becomes more risky. Pray for a late freeze. The later the freeze more the beans will yield.
    — Jacob Kaderly, CCA, Monticello, Wis.
  • As both a farmer and a company seed rep, it is a no brainer to no-till narrow rows as a second crop. First, it conserves the moisture. Second, it shades the middles quicker to shade out those later season problem weeds. Third, Shading the middle will keep the dirt cooler, reducing stress on the soybeans. Sure, you need to plant seed at a higher rate, which varies on where you live in the U.S., but the benefits far outweigh this cost.
    — Mike Dicken
  • There should be no problem drilling after the peas and oats. A planter will be more accurate but a drill will work fine. Not knowing were the farmer is located, there is a concern of enough moisture to get the beans going. When I plant that late after a crop, sometimes there is not enough moisture to get a good yield.
    — Jim Luedtke 

Have advice to share with Curtis? Leave your insights in the comments below. If you have a question you'd like to ask our no-till network and our 2023 Conservation Ag Operator Fellow, submit it here.