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What I've Learned From No-Tilling: Get Involved With Continuous No-Till

These two no-till veterans recommend it to build organic matter and improve soil health while relying on precision ag to make it work.

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NAMES: Don and Brian Glenn

LOCATION: Hillsboro, Ala.

ACRES NO-TILLED: 1,300

YEARS IN NO-TILLING: 15

CROPS NO-TILLED: Corn, wheat, double-cropped soybeans, grain sorghum.

Back in 1996, we made a commitment to farm more land without hiring any full-time labor. Thanks to a shift to continuous no-till, precision farming and more efficient equipment, we’ve surpassed our goals.

Today, with only part-time help from family members, we’ve expanded our acreage by 400 percent, cut fuel costs by one-third on a per-acre basis, improved our soil quality and boosted yields. And as far as we’re concerned, precision farming and bigger equipment are integral parts of the no-till system.

Prior to going to continuous no-till, we tried it on double-cropped beans to save labor and improve planting timeliness. After seeing the positive results, we gradually worked the entire crop rotation into no-till. Our last significant tillage was in 1998.

We did a bit of “manicure” tillage after that, to get rid of ruts and smooth out the fields, but in retrospect, we wouldn’t do that again. We can live with rougher terrain by keeping wheel tracks running in the same direction.

DRAMATIC BOOST IN ORGANIC MATTER

We’ve been amazed at the increase in organic matter in just 9 years. Fields that had 0.50 to 0.75 percent organic matter when we started no-tilling have improved to 1.5 to 2 percent, or essentially a 100 percent increase. It’s incredible the effect this has had on the capacity of the soil to produce.

We…

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Ron Ross

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