No-Till Advocate Gets Around And Keeps His Eye On Cover Crops

Indiana official shares his experiences and views on the benefits of cover crops for no-till fields.

"I get to see a lot of what some of the best farmers in the state and the country are doing. I find that most no-tillers, especially the ones committed to long-term no-tilling, are really chasing this thing called soil quality. That's what ultimately gives them an economic boost." --Barry Fisher

Barry Fisher gets around, working as Indiana’s conservation tillage coordination for the Natural Resources Conservation Service. “I get to see a lot of what some of the best farmers in the state and the country are doing. I find that most no-tillers, especially the ones committed to long-term no-tilling, are really chasing this thing called soil quality. That’s what ultimately gives them an economic boost.”

But he also notes that many farmers across the country tried no-tilling and did not achieve higher soil quality and the resulting benefits quickly enough, so they returned to conventional tillage practices.

That’s a problem cover crops can help resolve. “As we look at continuous no-tilling, cover crops are probably one of the most valuable tools we’ve come across. They will get us to that soil quality we’re after more quickly, and probably take us to a higher level of soil quality,” he says.

He believes in developing a systematic approach to cover crops and soil quality. “Let’s find out which ones do the most to get us there faster, and once we’re there we might switch species and do things differently to take us to the next level,” he says.

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