Many farmers in western North Dakota turned to no-till during dry years to keep the ground from drying out and save much-needed moisture for the plants. And they seem determined to stick with the practice, even during wet years.
Glenn Bauer has been using no-till practices on his land for 9 years. He saw a lot of benefit from it during dry years. That's why he's determined to stick with it — even though there was a large part of one sunflower field that Bauer couldn't plant this year.
"We've never seen really this much ground we weren't able to get into," he says.
But before he started no-tilling 9 years ago, he would have seen much smaller areas where he could drive around and plant.
"We wouldn't have been able to farm this. All of our potholes would have been full of water and we would have been going around all of our potholes," he says.
While he started no-tilling during dry years, he still sees the benefits, even though it's been unusually wet.
"My 49th year farming, and this is the wettest year I've ever seen," Bauer adds.
He says the difference is because ground that has been in no-till is better able to absorb the rain and snow it receives.
"With as much moisture as we had, we didn't see any water run over the top, didn't have any erosion at all. We're really happy with that," he says.
Bauer says he did consider tilling the land so it would dry out, but then decided if he could drive equipment on it at all, he would just seed it.
"As long as I'm farming, we will never till the ground," he says. "Im sure my sons won't, either, because it's really working well for us."
He says being in a wet cycle hasn't changed his mind at all about no-till. Bauer says there were still some areas that he couldn't plant in the spring, since they were too wet. But he hasn't had any trouble yet with driving his equipment around this fall.