Jeff Martin stays flexible, ready to ride the currents in technology and world markets that threaten some family farms.
For Martin, who no-tills 5,000 acres near Mt. Pulaski in central Illinois with his brother Tom and son Doug, that readiness includes the ability to successfully grow continuous corn. He harvested 700 acres of continuous corn last fall and has 40 acres on which corn has been strip-tilled for 4 consecutive years.
“We started planting continuous corn about 5 years ago after we read that we might be raising nothing but corn here in the Corn Belt because Brazil will be growing all the soybeans,” Martin says. “We thought we should at least experiment with continuous corn so we would be prepared, if necessary.
“Another reason we attempted this is that when we first tried it, we saw a 5- to 10-bushel increase in our soybean yield following a 2-year corn rotation. So, I’m not really sure where we’re going with the continuous corn, if we’re going to go 2 years, 3 years or 5 years,” he says.
Strip-tilling continuous corn successfully requires a focus on high-yielding fields, Martin says, and the application of 30 to 40 pounds more nitrogen than would be used on corn following soybeans.
And in the transition away from a corn-soybean rotation, he stresses, “It’s critical to get the strip bare and right down the middle of your corn rows in continuous corn. Come spring, run the row cleaner on your planter a…