No-Till Briefs: January 2024

No-Till, Cover Crops Protect Soil

In his 750-acre Champaign County, Ohio, farm, Jack Sommers has been 100% no-till since 1995 and has planted cover crops on every acre since 2012. Though his Fox and Lippincott soils provide good drainage and yield well in wetter years, if the summer is hot and dry, the soil can’t compensate and crops suffer. This and the county’s hilly topography make cover crops an ideal solution to prevent erosion and build organic matter to manage water. 

Understanding the needs of his field’s terrain, soil and surrounding ecosystem drove Sommers to implement no-till and experiment with cover crops, which ultimately improved soil health, yield and his farm’s durability when facing extreme weather.  

Invest in Row-Unit Downforce

A panel of Indiana certified crop advisors, including Andy Like, Jeff Nagel, Marty Park and Dan Quinn, agree that automatic row-unit downforce is a beneficial investment for no-till planters. 

Especially if no-tillers are planting into highly variable or wet soils, and have issues with planting depth and sidewall compaction, hydraulic or automatic downforce can achieve a consistent planting depth at higher speeds, making it more efficient. Adding downforce also helps achieve a good stand through increased residue in no-till operations. 

Reducing Air Pollution Increases Yields

A Stanford University study found that nitrogen oxides, which are some of the most widely emitted pollutants in the world, directly damage crop cells.

Cutting emissions in half, according to the researchers, would increase crop yields by about 20% in China, 10% in western Europe…

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