1. Spreading nutrients on the surface of no-till fields can result in half of the fertilizer being left above the roots, according to research by veteran no-tiller Marion Calmer. The Alpha, Ill., innovator says the solution is to inject fertilizer 6 to 8 inches deep in no-tilled ground.2.David Hula offered tips on increasing no-till yields, even if you can’t reach his record irrigated no-till corn yield of 623 bushels per acre. The Charles City, Va., no-tiller and strip-tiller plants 48,000 seeds per acre and always tests hybrids for germination. He places starter fertilizer 2 inches below the seed on both sides of the row. He also adds sugar in the row. 3.Russell Hedrick harvested a record-breaking no-till corn yield of 459 bushels per acre without irrigation in 2022. Overall, his Hickory, N. C., farm’s no-till corn averaged 268 bushels per acre. Continuous no-till with regenerative practices can increase nutrient density in crops, raising the value. 4.Increasing organic matter makes no-tilled soil healthier and also saves money on inputs. With the help of cover crops adding nitrogen from the air and phosphorus and potassium from deep in the ground, fertilizer purchases can be cut by 50-75%. As a result of boosting organic matter, Rick Clark of Williamsport, Ind., doesn’t buy any fertilizer. Since organic matter is almost 60% carbon, there can also be a financial benefit from selling carbon credits. 5.Erosion costs money. Eroded (unhealthy) soil costs U.S. producers up to $500 million, each year, according to researchers at the University of Colorado.
Jeff Duling says there are 3 things he believes heavily in — no-till, strip-till and drainage. The Ottawa, Ohio, grower no-tills 600 acres of soybeans and 200 acres of wheat along with strip-tilling 500 acres of corn. The host of a late summer no-till field day in 2023, Duling owns a tile plow to install extensive drainage tile across his farm. “When we get 3 inches of rain on our flat ground, it flows somewhere,” he says. “When you drive around after a heavy rainfall and look at my fields, not many have water running off them. But when you look at nearby conventionally filled fields, the water is running off.”
A big loss to the no-till and cover crop community was the accidental death of Dave Brant in an unfortunate May 2023 truck accident. The Carroll, Ohio, farmer was known for his bib overalls and dedication to spreading the word about the many benefits of no-till and cover crops. Snapped in 2020 by Randall Reeder, the retired Ohio State University ag engineer says this is his favorite photo of Brandt.