NAME: Barry Fisher
TITLE: Conservation Tillage Coordinator, Indiana NRCS, and Project Leader, Conservation Tillage Initiative
LOCATION: Greencastle, Ind. (Provides conservation-tillage technical support in Indiana counties.)
YEARS NO-TILLING: 24
NO-TILLED CROPS: Corn, soybeans, wheat, cover crops (brassicas, annual ryegrass, hairy vetch, others)
With the recent focus on the benefits of cover crops, it is ironic that research plots evaluating corn planted into hairy vetch sparked my initial interest in no-till. Those first impressions were made when I was a student at Western Kentucky University nearly 25 years ago.
It became apparent early on that no-till was something many Kentucky farmers, because of their very fragile soils, really needed to learn. Even back then, no-till principles were co-mingled in all my soil and crop production classes.
I carried that interest in no-till into my first job as an NRCS soil conservationist and was soon working with soil and water conservation districts setting up no-till field days. After a series of NRCS career moves, including 13 years as Putnam County (Ind.) district conservationist, I assumed my present job assignment 4 years ago, coordinating technical support for conservation tillage across the state.
It was perplexing to watch Indiana conservation-tillage corn acres flourish following the enactment of the 1985 Farm Bill, only to level off and even start falling slightly by the late 1990s. This was especially frustrating for a couple reasons. First, we had plenty of data to document the cumulative positive effects of a continuous no-till system…