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Open Mind, New Ideas Can Carry No-Tillers To New Levels

Continuous no-tilling, conservation dollars and more efficiency are some of the goals for those willing to reassess and revise their management practices.

“I want you to start thinking out of the box,” says no-tiller Dick Lyons. “We’ve got to continually change. If we are not willing to change, we’re not going to make it,” he says, pointing to the economic, competitive and environmental challenges facing all farmers.

Lyons speaks from experience. He’s been continuously no-tilling 300 acres on the fifth-generation family farm near Havel, Ill., for 16 years, and he spent 35 years as a high school and community college agriculture instructor.

“What I bring to the table are some of my ideas, some of the things I have seen in research, and some of the directions that I am going,” he told attendees at this year’s National No-Tillage Conference in Cincinnati.

No-tillers all start with the same basic ingredients for success, he notes: soil, equipment, drainage, seed, fertilizer and crop protection materials. However, each grower must tweak the mix of ingredients to develop his or her own recipe for success, he says.

Close Scrutiny

One way to facilitate change is to pay attention to the details of farm management practices and their effects, Lyons says, and then take advantage of opportunities when they arise.

Those opportunities might come in unlikely places, he adds. “For example, I think the appearance of Asian soybean rust could help us, not hurt us. If you talk to the people in Brazil, they will tell you that their soybean yields are not actually dropping much. In some cases, they are actually going up because they have…

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