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What I've Learned From No-Tilling: Management Duties And Profits Both Rise In Move To No-Tilling

Switching to no-till doesn’t necessarily mean more free time, but you will trade iron and tractor time for a thinking cap and a fatter wallet.

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Name: Russell McLucas

Location: McConnellsburg, Pa.

Years Of No-Tilling: 26

Acres No-Tilled: 650

No-Tilled Crops: Corn, soybeans, alfalfa, oats, wheat, barley, oats, crimson clover

When people ask me for a quick answer to justify shifting to no-tillage, the best one I can come up with is this: Yield is not measured in bushels or tons per acre. Yield is measured in net dollars per acre. No-tilling equals more dollars in the bank.

I’ve been no-tilling since 1980, a year after we left the dairy business because labor was getting hard to find and keep. I got tired of training people, only to lose them to local manufacturing plants.

And with the time demands of conventional tillage, I couldn’t keep up with a growing cropping operation on my own. I decided the only way to get my work done was to find a way to spend less time on the tractor.

It took me until 2005 to make a complete transition to no-till. During the past 26 years, I have seen dramatic results. Soil structure has vastly improved. I can show you fields on my farm with 40 inches of organic matter and worm burrows of equal depth.

I’m still one of only about three no-tillers in the county, and my yields have improved so much compared to the 10-year county average that I’ve been audited by crop insurance agencies in 5 of the past 6 years.

With no-till, yield spikes up and down are much less severe…

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Ross_ron

Ron Ross

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