On this episode of Conservation Ag Update, brought to you by Montag Manufacturing, we go inside the 32nd annual National No-Tillage Conference, and catch up with the Beery family who traveled all the way from central Virginia to learn new no-till and cover crop tips. We also share one of the top moments from Dr. Fred Below’s kickoff presentation on the 7 Wonders of the Corn Yield World. Plus, associate editor Mackane Vogel catches up with soil health specialist Amanda Kautz for a demonstration on the impact on water infiltration from cover crops.  

Later in the episode, Casey Seymour, Moving Iron owner, shares his thoughts on the latest technology trends and what they mean for your equipment moving forward, Precision Planting reveals the CornerStone Planting System and soil health expert Jim Hoorman explains how you can tell if your crop is lacking certain key nutrients.

This episode of Conservation Ag Update is brought to you by Montag Mfg.  

Montag Manufacturing has rolled out two new industry-first products.  Cover Crop Plus is the first metering system dedicated to cover crop seeds, able to accurately meter even the smallest seeds like cover cress. It can be mounted to tillage implements, combines and self-propelled high clearance machines.  

The second new product is the mammoth sized model 2224 with 13 or 16 tons capacity for producers running with larger strip-till implements. For more information, visit the Montag website or your Montag dealer.



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1.32nd Annual National No-Tillage Conference Recap

We’re back from the 32nd annual National No-Tillage Conference. It was definitely one for the record books.

Not even a snowstorm could stop over 800 people from making the trip to downtown Indianapolis for wall-to-wall talk about no-till, cover crops, soil health, equipment and all things conservation ag. Some of you have been attending the conference for decades. And some of you are making this a new family tradition, like the Beerys, who traveled all the way from central Virginia.

“It’s really neat to get to see the ways people do it in different locations, and the different ideas. There is stuff that you never think about, that other people are trying and it’s working. It’s a place that challenges your perception of what normal and what the right thing to do is.”
Logan Beery, No-Tiller, Cumberland County, Va. 

“It’s interesting to hear a lot about the cover crop strategies, like planting rates and methods of planting blends. Cover crops are something that’s interesting to hear about.”
Jefferson Beery, No-Tiller, Cumberland County, Va. 

“What surprised me the most is there are a lot of people talking about using annual ryegrass as a cover crop. Where I’m from in Virginia, annual ryegrass is the weed we can never get rid of. It would be interesting to play around with that more with different termination methods, to see if we can start integrating that more in our cover crops.”
Chessie Beery, Soil Science & Agronomy Student

NNTC Highlight: 7 Wonders of the Corn Yield World

One of my top highlights from the conference was the kickoff presentation from Connor Sible and Fred Below, who’s energy level, as always, was through the roof! The University of Illinois crop sciences professor set the tone for an information-packed week with an update on his 7 Wonders of the Corn Yield World. Here’s a taste.

“Why is fertilizer placement so important? It has to do with the horizontal spread of each plant’s root system. The horizontal spread of a corn plant root system is only 6-8 inches. See this right here, that’s a root. 32,000 plants per acre. This is an expensive scientific instrument called a ‘rulerometer,’ that we use to quantify that spread. Corn roots do not cross the row. I know you worry about that. Maybe a few fine ones do, but 90% of the root is in 6-8 inches. I know you’ve seen pictures of corn plants that are 2 foot wide, 3 foot deep. That’s called a tree. That’s not a corn plant. Just dig them up.”

We’ll share more top moments from the National No-Tillage Conference in a recap article coming soon to No-TillFarmer.com.

Conventional Tillage vs. Cover Crops & No-Till: Rainfall Simulation

Mackane Vogel here, with this week’s cover crop connection. At last week’s 32nd Annual National No-Tillage Conference in Indianapolis, I caught up with USDA’s soil health specialist for the state of Indiana, Amanda Kautz. Check out this simulation of a heavy rainfall, and how a conventionally tilled field responds to the rainfall compared to a field with no-till and cover crops.

“So these cutters go out into the field. You take a sample so this is just a smaller version of the 100+ acre field that these were pulled from. Again, conventional system over here, so, tillage with no cover crop, corn/bean rotation. Corn/bean/wheat rotation over here, so we have added a crop for diversity as well as cover crops and no-till. So, this is gonna simulate, again, a rain event. So, we’re gonna take about an inch of water, and pour it on, into these top trays, and it’s going to rain on the samples. And as you can see, this one immediately starts running off. So, it’s running off and carrying soil particles. You can see that water, again, is cloudy with that sediment. This one over here — we do have some runoff — but it again, is clear. And then, if I move this front container, you can actually see that it’s dripping in and infiltrating. So again, that’s gonna be held by the soil or moved down to your groundwater table and actually replenish that and be held there for your crops to have. This also as it dries out, in the conventional system, will seal and crust over, so, it will prevent more water from infiltrating later if we get another rainfall event.”

Stay tuned for more cover crop related live demonstrations from Amanda Kautz in the coming weeks.

Ahead of the Curve: Casey Seymour’s Crystal Ball

Time now to go ahead of the curve with Casey Seymour, who’s made a name for himself in used equipment remarketing at multiple dealerships. The Moving Iron owner shares his thoughts with us on the latest technology trends and what they mean for your equipment moving forward.

“Strip-till rigs — the technology that’s there will continue to morph and grow. I’m waiting to see when they’ll start showing what each shank is doing. From an autonomous tractor perspective, that’s going to be a big thing to pay attention to as well. What do those kits look like? What can you put them on? Over the next couple years, the amount of technology you’re going to see is crazy. It used to be every 2-3 years you’d get some new amazing piece of technology. By the time you get that new technology now, there’s already a new piece out there, and you haven’t even used what you’ve gotten. The next couple years are going to continue to get stronger and faster — more of that snowball effect that you see happening — and I think that’s going to be a big driving factor in the value of equipment. Long story short, pay attention to what your machine can be upgraded to as you move forward.”

Precision Planting Launches New Planting System

We’ve got breaking news from the annual Precision Planting Winter Conference. The company revealed its newest product — the CornerStone Planting System. Compatible with all standard-height 7x7 planter bars, the CornerStone is fully integrated with Precision Planting technologies and will allow farmers to customize their planter with a factory-built system that ships with all components already installed. Beta testing is underway, and with successful field trials this spring, it should be commercially available in 2025.    

Video of the Week: Evaluating Nutrient Deficiencies

It feels like Antarctica here in Wisconsin, so let’s think about warmer days. This summer, when you’re in the field, how can you tell if your crop is lacking certain key nutrients? Soil health expert Jim Hoorman has the answer in our Video of the Week.

“If you look at this corn leaf, you see these little train tracks. When we see these parallel lines on the outside of a corn leaf, that is boron deficiency. When you see the little train tracks on the inside like we are here and here, that’s calcium deficiency. The reason calcium is so important at pollination is we’re expediently increasing cell wall division, and you have to have calcium in that cell wall to have good yield. The other thing we can evaluate — if you look across this leaf it looks a little yellow. When you see these lines and it’s not uniformly green, it should be dark green across whole leaf, then you’ve got manganese deficiency. We can apply manganese sulfate on not only corn but also soybeans and that will help you with your manganese deficiency.”

Good to see Jim last week at the No-Till Conference as well. Have an interesting photo or video from your farm? Or a story you’d like us to feature on the broadcast? Send me an email at Nnewman@lesspub.com.

And that will wrap things up this edition of Conservation Ag Update. Until next time, for more stories visit no-tillfarmer.com, striptillfarmer.com and covercropstrategies.com. Thanks for stopping by. Have a great day!