On this episode of Conservation Ag Update, brought to you by Montag Manufacturing, we take you inside the 2024 Commodity Classic in Houston, Texas! A trio of no-tillers discuss their top planting challenges for 2024, while a pair of strip-tillers gameplan for a busy spring.

In the Cover Crop Connection, associate editor Mackane Vogel sets the stage for the 2024 National Cover Crop Summit, a virtual event that kicks off March 12.

Plus, we catch up with Great Plains Manufacturing’s Doug Jennings for an up-close look at the company’s new BD7410 narrow transport 13-foot box drill, and how its hydraulic downpressure allows no-tillers to attack difficult planting conditions. We also check out one of the panel discussions at Commodity Classic featuring analysis from former soybean world record holder Randy Dowdy on the pros and cons of dry and liquid fertilizers, and Ag Tire Talk’s James Tuschner gets the scoop on Case IH’s new Quadtrac undercarriage. 

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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No-Tillers Discuss 2024 Planting Season at Commodity Classic

You know planting season’s almost here when the Commodity Classic rolls around. Michaela caught up with several no-tillers at the event, and it’s no surprise many of them said the top concern heading into the spring is a lack of moisture.

“I’m going into the 4th year of a drought and that really worries me, and we’ve had record highs lately in February. My neighbor was out tiling in February! That’s never happened before. The concern and lack of moisture is top of my mind, but for no-tilling that works pretty good. I’ll just set the planter a little bit deeper and have at her.” – April Hemmes, Hampton, Iowa, No-Tiller

“It’s going to be challenging with our commodity markets sinking off like they are and with that drought lingering in the back of your mind, but of course they always say if you live in the Midwest just wait a day and the weather will change. We saw that flying down here to the Commodity Classic. It was 75 on Tuesday, when we flew out it was 19 and snowing. Who knows what we’re going to get, but we’re optimistic.” – Kyle Hawkins, Golden Harvest Soybean Champion, Borgard, Mo.

“You can’t do anything for dry weather. But it would be an early planting season with these kind of temperatures and dryness. The crop would go in potentially a month early. It reminds me of 2012.” – Jim Douglas, Shelbyville, Ind., No-Tiller

Strip-Tillers Discuss Spring Outlook

Strip-tillers, meanwhile, are also itching to fire up their strip-till rigs. But if they made strips in the fall, they’ll have a little more wiggle room. Brad Weaver made his strips in the fall, while John Hanson’s getting ready to make his strips next week if the weather cooperates. Let’s get their thoughts on 2024.

“We’ve had a mild winter. We haven’t had a lot of snow, but a decent amount of precipitation. Water-wise we’re sitting good. In Ohio it just depends on the weather. We might be able to start planting April 10, or it might be May 10. That 4-week spell is very iffy. We’re either going to have a nice relaxing spring, or by the time May 10 rolls around it’s go, go, go as fast as we can. That’s what we like about fall stripping. Our P and K is already out there. We can go and plant if we want to. We don’t have to go out and strip, that’s why we try to get as much done in the fall as we can.” – Brad Weaver, Upper Sandusky, Ohio, Strip-Tiller

“They’re talking it might be in the 70s next week. So maybe we’ll go into and strip next week. We’ll do our dry and our urea, about 30 pounds of it, then sulfur, AMS, we throw it all in there at same time. We’ll strip all our acres, then we’ll go back and plant our corn. Usually around April 11 we’ll plant. Whenever it’s fit, we’ll go in there and plant, and then move to beans.” – John Hanson, North Central Iowa, Strip-Tiller

After making the strips, Hanson says he only has to wait about 1-2 hours to start planting his corn.

Mackane Vogel’s a busy man getting ready for next week’s National Cover Crop Summit. He’s standing by with a preview in today’s Cover Crop Connection.

Cover Crop Moisture & Drought Tips at National Cover Crop Summit

Mackane Vogel here, with this week’s cover crop connection. The 2024 National Cover Crop Summit takes place online from March 12 to 14 and features a stacked lineup of 7 different sessions on all things cover crops. Check out this preview of Missouri agronomist Rob Myers’ presentation on cover crops and how they should be managed during a drought vs. during an especially wet season.

“We've got data now from thousands of farms in the wet year of 2019 how cover crops impacted that situation so I'm going to share some data and some farmer experience and some insights on how cover crops can impact our soil moisture in a lot of different situations and of course we do need to be careful how we manage the cover crop to avoid over drying the soil in a dry spring so I'll talk a little bit about that as well And then I'll touch on this practice of planting green which is increasingly being used where the farmers are allowing that cover crop to grow longer in the spring planting their cash crop into a still living cover crop and what kind of implications that has for soil moisture and how the cover crop should be managed. And I'll finish up with a little information on cover crop grazing and other approaches to improve overall resiliency so hope you'll have a chance to join us for that”

Lots of good info in Rob’s presentation that could be valuable for this year’s growing season. The Summit also features Jim Hoorman, Matt Burkholder, Michael Vittetoe, Rob Dowdle, Erin Silva, Andrew McGuire, Macauley Kincaid and James Hepp. It’s going to be a great event that you don’t want to miss so head to covercropsummit.com to sign up for free. That’s all for this week’s cover crop connection.

Commodity Classic: New Equipment on Display

Back to Houston we go now to check out some new equipment that was on display at the Commodity Classic.

John Deere made a flurry of introductions, unveiling the new S7 Series combine, 9Rx tractor models, C-Series air cart line and See & Spray Premium availability on the 2025 Hagie STS.

We also got our first look at the new BD7410 narrow transport 13-foot box drill from Great Plains. Doug Jennings fills us in on the machine’s hydraulic downpressure that allows growers to attack difficult planting conditions.

“Adjustable by moving a single pin to adjust how much downpressure we need on the row units to ensure the double disc slices through residue in a light no-till situation or minimum-till situation so that we ensure we don’t have residue in the seed trench. We plant that seed precisely at the depth that we desire to get that crop to emerge in a uniform fashion, maximize yields, follow that with a variety of closing wheels to take us to another level in closing seed trenches depending on the conditions that we’re working in.”

Commodity Classic: Presentation Highlights

There were lots of great presentations throughout the week at the Commodity Classic. Secretary of Ag Tom Vilsack and EPA administrator Michael Regan addressed the crowd. And No-Till Legend Marion Calmer hosted a panel discussion about vertical stratification with yield champions Randy Dowdy, David Hula and Eric Reed. One of the highlights included Dowdy answering a question from the crowd about dry and liquid fertilizers.

“With the economics, the way they are, if you can’t apply dry and get it banded, then liquid may be a good option. You just have to weigh the cost. The beauty of liquid is it’s already in the solution. Now you just need to get it down in the root zone. The dry fertilizer sometimes you can get more elemental pounds for the dollar, but now you have to figure out how to get it banded. Sometimes it’s easier to do it with liquid, with a sidedress rig or a planter.”

Video of the Week: Tire Talk at NFMS

That wraps up our coverage from the Commodity Classic. But before we go, let’s head back to the National Farm Machinery Show for our Video of the Week. Tire Talk’s James Tuschner catches up with Case IH product manager Matt Booms for a look at their new Quadtrac Undercarriage.

“We’ve got multiple moving parts. We take a lot of the same bearings and components off of our rigid undercarriage, but we now introduce some red hydraulic cylinders and more moving parts. It allows these center 3 axils to oscillate as well as vertical travel to follow the contour of the ground.”

“So basically if I have piece of ground like this, it will just come up and over it and hug it.”

“And grip onto it.”

“Grip onto it, correct. It’s not only this way. That should help on the road contours with a little bit of a slant on the road, so it’s not wearing the track as much.”

“Our traditional track machine is on the road, any crack on the road might show a little bit of a vibration or a spike in pressure. This will absorb that.”

“At the end of the day, what the producer is going to glean from this is better fuel economy, reduced soil compaction, and the big benefit of rider comfort.”

“Absolutely. And machine longevity. And let’s add in one more factor — a little bit more transport speed.”

It has a transport speed of 26.5 mph.

That will wrap things up. 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!