BIG CAPACITY. David and Donald Sutherland bought this White no-tll planter for 16, 30-inch rows or 31, 15-inch rows that is pulled by a tracked Cat Challenger.

No Reason To Accept Yield Drag With No-Till

Aiming for high yields is key to the success of this no-till operation.

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Name: David D. Sutherland

Location: Leroy, Kan.

Years Of No-Tilling: 10 (last 7 years in 100 percent continuous no-till).

Acres No-Tilling: 4,000 (600 acres doublecropped). Also custom no-tills about 4,000 acres.

No-Tilled Crops: Corn, soybeans, winter wheat, grain sorghum, cover crops (Austrian winter peas, oilseed radish, annual ryegrass).

One of the best pieces of advice we got before shifting to continuous no-till is to get your fields in the best shape possible when making any major changes in your farming methods. As a result of correcting pH, bringing soil fertility up to high levels, and doing land leveling and ditching where needed to improve field drainage, we didn’t experience the yield drag some new no-tillers report.

In fact, we started to see improved yields the very first years of no-tilling. It was one of the first of many good ideas we’ve taken home from attending the National No-Tillage Conference.

That was 7 years ago. Actually, my dad, Donald “Red” Sutherland, first experimented with no-till 25 years ago. He learned a lot given the limited equipment and no-till knowledge available at the time. He never gave up on the idea, and by the mid-90s, our need to control erosion, reduce manpower and cut fuel costs brought us back around to trying no-till again, this time in a 100 percent continuous no-till system.

About a third of our fields, located about 70 miles south of Topeka, Kan., are erodible and, over the years, we’ve installed about 35 miles of…

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Sutherland david

David Sutherland

Ross ron

Ron Ross

Ron Ross pioneered the “What I’ve Learned from No-Tilling” series that has appeared in every issue of No-Till Farmer since August of 2002. He authored more than 100 of these articles.

A graduate of South Dakota State University’s agricultural journalism program, Ross spent most of his career as a writer and editor.

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