Fifth-generation farmer Monte Bottens gave a presentation at the 2024 National No-Tillage Conference on incorporating cattle to his 2,500-acre no-till operation, including his partnership with Nofence, a Norwegian company dedicated to virtual fencing for livestock.

When Bottens first integrated cattle into his Illinois farm in 2017, he was moving his polywire fence paddocks everyday to prevent overgrazing and soil compaction on his cover crops. In 2021, to simplify his operation and minimize labor requirements, he began using Nofence technology.

Through an app, Bottens can now draw his own fence lines and monitor the location of his cattle via removable, solar powered collars. To keep the cattle within the virtual fence, cows are trained on a tone.

“They don’t learn a physical space,” Bottens says. “They learn an audio tone for their correction. As they approach that virtual boundary, they’ll start to hear a scale that goes up to 10. At 10 is when they get the pulse if they don’t turn around, but as they turn around, it goes back down in tone. That way the cow knows where they’re at.”

Bottens was able to train his herd on this system in 5 days, and now he has more time than before to focus on his responsibilities as a crop farmer while still reaping the soil health benefits of livestock integration.

On the Bottens Family Farm, his use of no-till, cover crops and cattle combined yield 0.4% organic matter per year.

In the coming months, watch the full presentation at No-Till Farmer and learn more about the benefits of virtual fencing in livestock integration. Subscribe to No-Till Farmer magazine and sign up for our free email daily newsletter for the latest updates. 

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