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As a spirited young farmer, Von Mohler drove from Sidney, Ohio, to Hopkinsville, Ky., to see no-tiller Harry Young. He didn’t find Young, but did see impressive no-till fields.
“He had doublecrop beans knee-high planted into wheat stubble. It looked as good as anything I’d seen in Illinois,” says Mohler. Unlike the Midwest’s high organic matter soils, the Kentucky soils were similar to some of Mohler’s highly erodible acreage.
Mohler liked what he saw and wanted to give no-till a try. On the 150-acre farm Mohler’s father bought in 1957, yields were limited with their conventional tillage system. About a third of the farm didn’t have any topsoil left. and the corn typically yielded 24 bushels per acre. In a good year, the conventionally-tilled corn reached 84 bushels per acre.
Mohler began no-tilling in 1977 and hasn’t stopped since. With soil types varying from sandy to clay loams, corn yields range from 100 to 210 bushels per acre and soybeans yield 30 to 55 bushels per acre.
No-till works well on his highly erodible land where slopes range from 3 to 12 percent. “No-till shines more in those fields than in the well-drained, good soil,” Mohler says about the HEL ground. “If we tried to plow, we wouldn’t get the yields.”
At Triple M Farm, Von and his father, Lowell, and Von’s son, Curt, no-till 1,600 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat. The rotation of corn, soybeans, oats and hay also boost no-till yields. Corn yields can…