ON-FARM TESTS. After finding an area with higher yields in conventional tillage, Tim Manchester wanted to see if he could match the results with no-till. Since then, Manchester has been unable to duplicate the increased higher yields with tilled ground.

Dare to Compare

This farmer matches his conversation system to varying soil types

Tim Manchester was nonchalantly looking over yield maps when the clusters of dots representing yields glowed as brightly as a K-Mart blue light special.

The dark blue dots on the yellow background showed conventional soybeans yielded 53 to 67 bushels and no-till soybeans averaged 48 bushels per acre. “There was a significantly better yield where we had tilled,” Manchester says, pointing to the 5 acres of tilled soil.

The more than 10-bushel-per-acre yield increase in conventional tillage caused him to stop and take a closer look at what is making the most money. Seven years earlier, he began no-tilling to save input costs and time. He farms 4,000 acres and owns a seed business near Lakeview, Ohio.

Manchester decided to put no-till to the test. A field that needed leveling due to recently installed drainage tile was the perfect place for the trial. In the fall, the corn stalks were tilled using a field cultivator. In the spring, no-till soybeans were planted next to the fall-tilled acreage.

Comparable Yields

The no-till soybeans yielded as well as the conventional. The yields surprised Manchester because he expected the conventional tillage to surpass the no-till. “We didn’t see a demonstratable affect from the field cultivator,” says Manchester.


The no-tiller compares tillage practices whenever and wherever he can. “When I’ve done tillage for leveling, I watch and compare it to no-till,” he says as a Cat Challenger pulls a field cultivator on a fall day.

He compares tillage systems carefully and keeps an open…

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