While most Corn Belt no-tillers grow only corn and soybeans, Charlie Hammer prefers a three-way rotation. The operator of Hammer & Kavazanjian Farms with his wife Nancy Kavazanjian at Beaver Dam, Wis., prefers a no-till rotation evenly split between corn, soybeans and wheat in the farm’s 2,300-acre operation.
“Adding wheat in the no-till rotation reduces crop stress in the summer months,” he says. “Wheat definitely helps you solve the concerns of having only a two-crop no-till rotation.”
Bill Stangel has served as the farm’s crop consultant for 14 years. “Brown stem rot is a good example of what a longer rotation can do for disease control,” he says “It’s been a problem with soybeans on this farm, and adding no-tilled wheat to the rotation has played a key role in helping control this costly disease.”
But an even split between these three crops doesn’t always occur. In 2005, the farm harvested 1,040 acres of no-tilled corn, 700 acres of soybeans and only 290 acres of wheat. Some 390 acres of wheat was winter killed and this ground was no-tilled to corn last spring.
“We’ll do more corn on corn this year to get back into the proper three-crop no-till rotation,” says Hammer.
“In 1982, Charlie jumped into no-till with both feet and was looking at ways to refine everything,” says Stangel. “By 1986, new equipment became available to really make no-till work, and Charlie and Nancy soon made a real push for improving soil quality. Increasing organic matter with no-till…