Succeeding With Continuous No-Till Corn Means Watching Out For Basic Threats

Wisconsin producer proves the naysayers wrong; no-till continuous corn can be done if risks from insects and disease are managed.

Corn prices are booming, having hit 10-year highs early this year. Prices are expected to remain strong, thanks in part to a booming demand from the growing ethanol industry.

That has a lot of producers looking to plant additional corn acres. Agricultural economists estimate that 2007 corn acreage could increase by as much as 8 million acres, or approximately 10 percent. That extra corn acreage has to come from somewhere, and it has a lot of producers looking at planting corn on corn.

No-tiller Thomas Griswold, who farms near Ixonia, Wis., is no stranger to corn-on-corn rotations — he’s been planting corn that way for years. In fact, two fields have been in continuous corn since he first purchased his farm in 1968.

Today, he has 560 acres of continuous corn that’s used to help feed his 450 dairy cows.

Why continuous corn? “We’re a dairy farm,” Griswold explains. “We have land that is suited for alfalfa and corn. We could rotate with alfalfa, but we only need so much hay. The acres that we can keep in corn, we keep in corn.”

Getting Even Better

Griswold previously planted his corn using conventional tillage, but he turned to no-tilling 10 years ago. He’s noticed a significant difference in his soil health and crop vigor since then.

“Every year, our ground carries over better,” Griswold says. “The ground is firm, but water penetrates through.”

He notes that even in dry years, water is available to the roots. “We had some soil…

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