On this episode of Conservation Ag Update, brought to you by Martin-Till, no-tillers from across the world weigh in on the million-dollar question, “How do you control slugs?” 

In the Cover Crop Connection segment, associate editor Mackane Vogel pays a visit to no-tiller Jay Baxter for an up-close look at the impact cover crop mixes are having on his Georgetown, Del., farm. Plus, No-Till Living Legend and Conservation Ag Operator Fellow Ray McCormick shows how balansa clover, crimson clover and annual ryegrass paid off after 5 inches of rain in southern Indiana.

Also in the episode, Eagle, Wis., no-tiller Tyler Troiola explains why he's trying John Deere See & Spray Premium this summer and talks through the potential challenges the technology could face in a no-till, cover crop system.

Plus, the co-owners of John Deere dealer Eis Implement share some perspective on the latest no-till trends in their neck of the woods, and research associate Connor Sible provides an update on a biologicals and residue management study at the Univ. of Illinois! 

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!



Jump to a section or scroll for the full episode...

How Do You Control Slugs?

Welcome to CAU! We’re jumping right in with our question of the week, a timely one that comes to us from the No-Till Email Discussion Group. “What do you do to control slugs?” The million-dollar question with a million different answers.

“We’ve had a lot of slugs over the past 3-4 years in no-till fields…Once we find the first measurable feeding on corn or beans, we either apply slug pellets to the lower and shaded areas, or the whole field, depending on slug pressure. Deadline slug pellets are what we use at 10 pounds per acre with an electric spinner spreader on a 4-wheeler. It spreads 40 feet.”

No-Till Innovator Phil Needham has seen a lot of slugs the past several years in Kentucky. He says they either apply slug pellets to the lower and shaded areas, or the whole field, depending on slug pressure. He uses a product called Deadline slug pellets at 10 pounds per acre with an electric spinner spreader.

“I get good results spreading crystalline (not granules) of ammonium sulphate applied at about 100 pounds per acre. I spread it just before sunset. The slugs will die when they make contact with a particle.

Robert in Australia gets good results spreading ammonium sulphate at a rate of about 100 pounds per acre, just before sunset. He says the slugs will die when they make contact with a particle. 

“We’ve seen slugs being especially challenging this year in several areas of the country. One option for control is Ferroxx Slug & Snail Bait. It’s a waterproof formula that contains iron chelate as the active ingredient. Iron is toxic only to slugs, which causes them to stop feeding and provides immediate protection to the plants.” 

Eric Maurer says this has been a problem in several areas of the country. He recommends a product called Ferrox Slug & Snail Bait. He says it’s a waterproof formula that contains iron chelate as the active ingredient. Iron is toxic only to slugs, which causes them to stop feeding and provides immediate protection to the plants. 

“I wrote 5 fact sheets on slugs with over 30 recommendations on how to fight slugs. Any single practice is no more than 60% effective, so it requires a whole suite of best management practices. Go to my website HoormanSoilHealthServices.com to find the slug fact sheets. Good luck!” 

No-Till Innovator Jim Hoorman knows a thing or two about this. The former NRCS soil health specialist has written 5 fact sheets on slugs. He says there are over 30 recommendations, and none of them are more than 60% effective. So, it requires a whole suite of best management practices. Check out his website HoormanSoilHealthServices.com for those fact sheets.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. We had over 20 responses to the question, all of which are posted to No-TillFarmer.com. Join the conversation by signing up for the email discussion group on our website.

Dry Spell Puts Cover Crops to the Test

On this edition of the Cover Crop Connection, associate editor Mackane Vogel pays a visit to Jay Baxter’s farm in Georgetown, Del. The no-tiller takes us to one of his fields and shows how multiple cover crops species, including hairy vetch, buckwheat and winter annuals, are helping his soils retain moisture during a dry stretch.

No-Tiller’s Cover Crop Nets 650 Pounds of K

No-Till Living Legend and 2024 Conservation Ag Operator Fellow Ray McCormick is reaping some big-time benefits from cover crops on his southern Indiana farm, especially in a wet spring. 

Check out this video from one of his fields. Just 1 day after a 5-inch rainfall, it looks like there’s no water on the surface. You’re looking at a mix of balansa clover, crimson clover and annual ryegrass, which Ray says thrives in wet conditions like this.

“If this was cereal rye, you would’ve probably struggled to get a stand in such wet soils, but annual ryegrass loves it. And what it also loves to do is go down about 4 foot-plus into the soil, making channels for the corn roots, making channels for where the water can get out of the soil, and bringing up nutrients. We did some biomass removal recently. Incredibly there was 650 pounds of potash, of potassium per acre in our biomass removal. We’re bringing a lot of nutrients up from way down there and making fields like this that everybody says, ‘They’ve got great soils, and it won’t work on my soils.’ These are the soils you’d think it would be the hardest to do, and cover crops really help you.”

McCormick is back in the field this week replanting after that rainstorm and a tornado that came through a week and a half ago. The tornado took out trees on his farm and blocked roads to his fields, but he’s been able to get back out there this week.

Ahead of the Curve: Smart Sprayers & No-Till

Let’s go ahead of the curve now, and ask the question — “How practical is a smart sprayer in a no-till system?” Tyler Troiola is about to find out on in Eagle, Wis.

He installed a John Deere See & Spray Premium kit on his sprayer to target-spray weeds, and he’s going to use it for the first time on his second sprayer pass around V4. He questions how it’s going to handle heavy residue. Will the cameras be able to see the weeds? But he’s confident this kind of technology is going to pay off big time in his no-till system. 

“I think we’ll have good luck with it because we’re at the scope that we can still do a good job managing it. It may add a spray pass to our system, but we’re at the level where we have the time to be able to scout, make that decision and make another pass. A lot of guys or the co-op aren’t going to add another pass to their system. Being no-till and having cover crops as long as we do, we don’t have a very big weed bank here, so we don’t deal with a lot of nasty weeds as it is because the cover crops or the cereal rye are holding the weeds down already. I’m hoping that as this technology adapts, our weed bank doesn’t grow as well, but I guess we’re expecting to have some problems the first year or two.”

We’ll check in with Tyler soon to see how it goes.

No-Till on the Rise for Deere Dealer

Switching gears but staying in Wisconsin, we stopped by Eis Implement, a single store John Deere dealer in Two Rivers, Wis, for a special assignment for our sister publication Farm Equipment. And co-owners Jon and Chris Eis had some interesting things to say about no-till and strip-till trends in their area. Take a listen.

Jon Eis: “It’s come a long way, just in the last 3 years. A lot more no-till.” 

Chris Eis: “I feel like there is more no-till than conventional right now, but maybe not by a lot. Strip-till — there were guys doing it 10 years ago, and it was getting more prominent. I’ve seen it go away a little bit. Maybe it will come back. It seems like everything is a cycle. Most guys I know, they all have no-till drills and things like that. It’s 60/40, something like that. It’s in that ballpark, I’d guess.” 

Video of the Week: Biologicals for Residue Decomposition 

And let’s wrap things up with our Video of the Week. This one comes to us from Connor Sible, research associate at the University of Illinois and 2024 National No-Tillage Conference speaker. He checks in with an update on a residue management study.  

“One of the things we’ve been doing in residue management is no-till. You spray these biologicals on the field, and you put them out there to degrade the no-till residue. But one of the questions we have in this study is if you spray your residue-decomposing biologicals, should you till them under or leave them as no-till? We have this study finally planted. We put the treatments out here. We’re looking at different biologicals for residue decomposition. Should we leave them on the surface? Maybe they’ll have a better efficacy because we’re not incorporating the residues with tillage. Or if you spray the biologicals and then incorporate them, do you maybe get better cycling when you put those microbes in the soil, or do they just get outcompeted by all the native microbes that are already doing that great work for us?”

Excited to see what the results are. We’ll have an update for you when it’s available.

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!