On this episode of Conservation Ag Update, brought to you by Martin-Till, Westville, Ind., no-tiller Jeff Herrold provides an update on how planting is going so far, and why a potential problem with slugs is causing some early-season anxiety. Herrold also explains why he prefers to plant soybeans before corn.

In the Farmer Feature, we tag along with Leo and Patrick Johnson on the first day of planting in southern Wisconsin. Patrick encounters a problem with the planter in the field and calls his precision specialist to get to the bottom of it.

In the Cover Crop Connection, Watertown, Wis., no-tiller Tony Peirick shares planter setup tips for planting green into a living cover crop.

Plus, 1 year after the deadly dust storm crash in central Illinois, we discuss the cost of erosion and why regulation could soon come from tillage-related incidents. And finally, the Video of the Week features Salin 247’s autonomous no-till planter in action in central Iowa!

This episode of Conservation Ag Update is brought to you by Martin-Till.  

Our customers believe that Martin-Till®️ products provide an excellent return on their investment. We know this because a large percentage of them are repeat customers since the beginning in 1991. Our planter attachments help make it possible to plant into higher levels of residue and moisture. Higher levels of mulch means less erosion, improved soil tilth and fertility, which can reduce production costs.

 Martin-Till’s goal is to increase yields and save you time and money. We hope you find something from our product offerings of row cleaner, UMO’s, closing wheels systems and recently added concaves that will make this year’s planting & harvesting go better for you. After all, you deserve the best!



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#Plant24 Update: “We’re Looking Really Good” 

Welcome to another #Plant24 edition of Conservation Ag Update. 27% of corn and 18% of soybeans are in the ground, according to the USDA April 29 Crop Progress Report. Westville, Ind., no-tiller Jeff Herrold says he’s ahead of schedule, but there’s something that’s making him a little nervous.

“We’ve got about 900 acres of beans planted. We’re looking really good. Then we’ve got about 400 acres of corn. We always start beans first. Corn is on schedule. Conditions were good. Everything so far looks really nice. The only problem we’re seeing this spring is slugs. We haven’t experienced that in the past. I don’t know how bad they are yet, but just seeing some makes me a little nervous. You hear the no-till guys talk about it, and they would say that’s why they went to vertical tillage just to try and stir things up. I don’t think it’s bad, but that just makes me nervous for the future. Does that mean they’re coming, or is that within a reasonable threshold when they have damp places to hide, underneath trash and in the cover. We really haven’t had any experience with slugs, so it’s kind of new territory for us.”

You heard Jeff mention he plants soybeans before corn. He’s going against the grain with that one, at least according to a recent No-Till Farmer poll.

Question of the Week: Do You Plant Soybeans or Corn First?

We asked, “What will you plant first this year?” It’s almost split down the middle with nearly 53% saying corn before soybeans. Jeff, why soybeans first?

“We’re just trying to get them growing early, fast. Corn is more sensitive to colder temperature as far as holding it back, where soybeans, if you can get them out of the ground, the more they’re growing, the more nodes they’re going to put off. So, I want them growing as soon as possible.”

76% of no-tillers who responded to our question on Facebook, said they’re planting corn first. Akron, Ind., no-tiller Jason Harrold, no relation to Jeff, says he’s planting corn first because his farm going to corn will dry out faster than his farm going to soybeans.  

First-Time Strip-Tiller Overcomes Planter Problem on Day 1

Moving on now to the Farmer Feature. This week we’re tagging along with the Johnson family on the first day of planting in southern Wisconsin. 

Leo Johnson tells us he had a record week for planting — 600 acres in 4.5 days! Catch Leo at the National Strip-Tillage Conference Aug. 8-9 in Madison, Wis. He’s going to share lessons learned from his first year strip-tilling. You can cash in on those early bird registration savings at StripTillConference.com.

Planter Setup Tips for Planting into a Green, Living Cover Crop

This week we’re going to hear from Dodge County, Wis., no-tiller Tony Peirick as he shares some key tips for setting up a planter to plant green into a living cover crop. This video comes to us courtesy of University of Wisconsin’s Integrated Pest and Crop Management program. 

“So many people, when they do go planting green and planting this residue, they’re not getting the seed down deep enough. Because we do have that root system with cereal rye on the surface and that can take up some moisture and keep it a little dryer on the top, but you have to get it down deeper so you get it down 2, 2.5 or 3 inches and you’ll be down in the moisture. And once everything keeps going, it’ll really take off. But the main thing with that is getting the seed in the ground. You have to get it down over 2 inches with these covers and no-till and most planters can do it. Keep a nice sharp closing disk or your opener disk and put some extra weight with insecticide boxes or weight it down with whatever you have or turn up your springs all the way.”

 Peirick says he uses hydraulic down pressure on his planter and that best practice is to first add extra weight and then worry about different closing units in the back of the planter.

1 Year Later: Revisiting the Deadly Illinois Dust Storm

Wednesday marked the 1-year anniversary of the deadly dust storm crash that claimed the lives of 8 people in central Illinois. 

Extreme winds blew dirt from tilled fields, causing a 90-vehicle pileup on Interstate 55. Some say the tragedy could’ve been avoided if the fields were no-tilled. During the 2024 National No-Tillage Conference Innovator panel, retired USDA deputy secretary of agriculture Jim Moseley speculated on the regulation that could come from tillage-related incidents. 

“Dust comes at all times of the year, and it's all dependent upon the conditions, but the fact that we're bearing this soil in large quantities across the Midwest does not bode well. I've worked in the policy arena for 30 years, and the moment will arise when it will end up in the courts or in legislative bodies. There's going to be action taken. When that happens, farmers are going to be very unhappy because I think we're going to begin to see the insurance companies walk away from the great risks that are being felt. I-55 was really a major tragedy that I think has set the stage for that to happen.”

We have much more from the Innovator panel on the cost of erosion and a look back at the deadly dust storm in a new article from managing editor Michaela Paukner on No-TillFarmer.com.

Video of the Week: Strip-Till Autonomy in Action

Let’s wrap things up with our Video of the Week. This one comes to us from Salin 247 founder Dave Krog. 

Check it out. The company’s autonomous planter makes its way across a strip-tilled field in central Iowa. Krog says the field is part of an Iowa State nitrogen response project. Salin 247 will be doing a variable-rate sidedress application in early June. We’ll check back in with Dave around then to see how it goes.

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!