KNOW THE SOIL. Kris Schaffert (above) and his father, Paul, make an effort to understand the condition of their soils, including any hardpans from earlier farming that they rip and then keep mellow with no-tilling.

After Three Decades Of No-Tilling, There's Still More To Learn

Never stop looking to improve your fields, your cropsand your profits, says one of the early adopters of no-tilling.

Check The Specs...

Name: Paul Schaffert (No-till farmer, founder and CEO, Schaffert Mfg. Company)

Location: Indianola, Neb.

Years Of No-Tilling: 34

Acres: 2,000

No-Tilled Crops: Corn, soybeans, sunflowers, wheat, grain sorghum

When I first gave no-till a serious look in 1972, we were lucky to harvest 60 bushels of corn per acre in southwestern Nebraska. I couldn’t have dreamed then that we would be setting ambitious but realistic yield goals of 250-bushel corn and near 100-bushel soybeans and wheat for 2006.
We know these goals are achievable today thanks to the constant search for new solutions in equipment design, biogenetics, nutrient placement and water management that we’ve seen during the past 35 years. I’m proud to have been a serious participant in some of those efforts.
Last year we came close to our goal, with one field of irrigated corn hitting 248 bushels per acre. What a change in 30 years. In a typical mid-1970s rotation, we would plant corn or grain sorghum in mid-May into clean, terraced fields that had been summer fallowed the year before. It wasn’t uncommon for a 4- or 5-inch rain to fill the terraces and flood out the crop shortly after emergence. Often it was the latter part of June before we could get back in to replant, which smacked yield potential in the head.   
About that time, my dad visited the University of Nebraska farm at North Platte, where they were researching eco-fallow. With eco-fallow, growers leave wheat stubble untilled or disc it…
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