VERSATILITY PREFERRED. Ellis McFadden replaced his air drill with a 1790 John Deere no-till planter that handles both 30-inch corn rows and 15-inch rows of soybeans.

Staying A Step Ahead

A stable of late-model, essential equipment and innovative weed control takes Ellis McFadden’s no-till success in new directions.

When we wrote about Ellis McFadden’s no-till operation near Fort Wayne, Ind., in November 2003, he noted two important keys to success. First, keep only equipment that is absolutely necessary, but make sure it’s all new or nearly new. Second, don’t be shy about trying new methods that help you farm smarter.

Those principles haven’t changed. During the past 2 years, McFadden has purchased a new 1790 John Deere planter that handles both no-till corn and soybeans, a high-capacity seed box tender trailer that keeps the planter rolling and a 4720 Deere self-propelled sprayer with a 90-foot boom that helps streamline an innovative fall weed burndown program. These new rigs join a late model tractor, combine and corn head that complete his no-till equipment lineup.

“Farming smarter” started about 17 years ago when McFadden saw the wisdom of no-tilling and sold a shed full of tillage equipment. Today he and son-in-law Tom Tilden no-till 1,700 acres of corn and soybeans.

One Machine, Two Crops

The decision to buy the 1790 split-row planter was made after 2 year’s of corn planting experiences with a 1770 model and seeding beans with a John Deere 1780 no-till air drill.

“The equipment worked effectively, but we thought we were wasting seed with the air drill. As it worked out, we were able to make a really good trade by replacing both with the 1790 that plants 16, 30-inch no-till corn rows or 32, 15-inch rows of soybeans. We really like it in the field…

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Ross ron

Ron Ross

Ron Ross pioneered the “What I’ve Learned from No-Tilling” series that has appeared in every issue of No-Till Farmer since August of 2002. He authored more than 100 of these articles.

A graduate of South Dakota State University’s agricultural journalism program, Ross spent most of his career as a writer and editor.

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