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Warren Dick looks forward to the second revolution of agriculture. The emergence of no-tilling marked the first revolution, he says, starting in 1962 when researchers Glover Triplett and Dave Van Doren established some no-tillage plots at Ohio State University.
That no-till movement has grown to include 62 million acres and 23 percent of the U.S. cropland, including about 35 percent of the soybeans nationwide and roughly 23 percent of the corn.
The second revolution will draw many more farmers to no-till and provide greater returns for their efforts, says Dick, an agronomist at Ohio State University’s Agricultural Research and Development Center at Wooster, Ohio.
The coming revolution will be marked by scientific advances that Dick, among others, can see on the horizon. “Some of these are closer at hand than others. Some are long-term thinking and maybe dreaming even further into the future,” he says.
Some of those ideas include:
Soil organic matter, which is promoted by no-tilling, harbors a huge diversity of microorganisms, Dick notes, and many of these have natural disease suppression capabilities.
“There is a whole industry that developed out of Ohio that uses a compost mix for greenhouse production. In the past, you had to use tons of fungicide to keep the fungal diseases out of the greenhouse. Now, with compost with the right microbial diversity, plants in the greenhouses and nurseries don’t have the disease problem,” he says. “And what you have on the surface of the long-term no-tillage field is a…