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Test Plots Give No-Tiller A Chance To Learn By Doing

Ohio no-tiller uses test plots to determine best management practices that will make the rest of his farm as profitable as possible.

NO-TILLER ED WINKLE describes himself as curious. “I’ve always wanted to know what makes things tick,” he says. He’s taken that curiosity to another level, dedicating 100 acres of the 500 acres he farms to research.

Winkle tests varieties, seed treatments, planting dates, application rates; you name it, he’s tried it. It’s all done with the bottom-line goal of designing profitable programs that work on his farm in Blanchester, Ohio.

Winkle isn’t a stranger to test plots. He ran and expanded the Blanchester School District farm from 1971 to 1987. “We tried everyone’s seed and fertilizer, whatever we could get for the farm,” Winkle recalls. “And what we learned is that test plots help us gather reputable data. And the more data we collect, the more confident we become with the results.”

Rotation, Rotation, Rotation.

Today, he spends about half of his time farming and the other half operating his consulting business. And he proclaims the benefits of a consistent crop rotation program that provides the best returns while being the most beneficial for the soil. His bottom line: diversify the rotation.

“My grandfather always talked about rotating the crops on the fields,” Winkle says. “After several years of testing, we’ve proved that the longer you keep the crop off the ground, the better it performs.”

Winkle says his research shows that it’s possible to plant the same crop 2 years in a row, as long as you give the field a break by planting it into other crops for…

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