What I've Learned From No-Tilling: Time Savings Allow For Speciality Crops

High-starch corn and Roundup Ready soybean seed are two crops made possible because no-tilling gives Sam Swinford the time needed for these niche markets.

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Name: Sam Swinford

Location: Flat Rock, Ind. (Manages Swinford’s Noble Acres Inc. with son Aaron)

Years Of No-Tilling: 18 (15 in continuous no-till)

Acres No-Tilled: 1,950

No-Tilled Crops: Corn, soybeansy

We made our initial commitment to continuous no-tilling during the early years of Roundup Ready soybean development. We had gained experience with no-tilling double-cropped soybeans into wheat stubble, but we weren’t totally impressed. We found that heavy residue from the wheat crop tied up nitrogen and was costing us fertilizer dollars. We were also experimenting with no-tilling soybeans into corn stubble, which was getting easier with new narrow-row equipment.

When Roundup Ready soybeans were introduced into our area in 1995, we were among the first growers to switch over in a big way, ordering a whole semi-load of seed the first year.

About then we also tried no-tilling corn into soybean stubble and quit raising wheat altogether. We were seeing that no-till in our heavy clay soils was the way to prevent crusting while improving germination and uniform stands. We haven’t tilled our heavy clay soils since then.

Today, my son Aaron and I manage 1,950 acres of continuous no-till, about one-third in specialty crop production, including Roundup Ready soybean seed and high-amylose corn, with the remaining crops in commodity corn and soybeans. We feel the one-third/two-thirds ratio is about right if you are going to give specialty crops the extra attention they need to pay off.

Aaron was eager to get started with the shift to…

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Ron Ross

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