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What I've Learned From No-Tilling: Direct Seeding Has Dramatically Reduced Dependence On Herbicides

Thanks to diversified crop rotations and improved management strategies, no-tilling is paying off for this eastern Oregon rancher and his two sons.

Check The Specs...

Name: Tim Melville (shares no-till equipment with sons kurt and kevin)

Location: Enterprise, Ore.

Number Of Years No-Tilling: 25

Acres: 950 (three melvilles no-till 3,000 ares)

No-Tilled Crops: Soft White Winter Wheat, Dark Northern Spring Wheat, Certified Pea Seed, Canola, Alfalfa, White Dutch Clover and Bluegrass

When we started no-tilling 25 years ago, we really weren’t trying to solve a soil erosion problem. We hadn’t thought it through that far and we just wanted to stay competitive by reducing costs. And it took several years and dramatic changes in our cropping systems before we started to see the real long-term benefits of no-till (which we call direct seeding).

My farm sits in the Wallowa Valley of northeastern Oregon, a high-elevation area that is 3,800 to 4,800 feet above sea level. We are vulnerable to possible frost nearly every night of our short growing season, and we have seen snow fall on the Fourth of July.

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With limited precipitation of only about 12 inches per year on the ranch, all of our crops are grown under center pivot, wheel line or hand line irrigation.

No-tilling corn and soybeans are out of the question, yet we’ve managed to develop a hard-working direct seeding system that includes eight crops in an area where wheat and barley or continuous barley production are traditional. We long ago sold our plows and discs, and my entire equipment line includes two drills, a heavy harrow, a sprayer, a combine and miscellaneous items.

THE SYSTEM

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Ron Ross

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