When the Christensen family moved to a new farming location in southwestern Wisconsin 5 years ago, they took a hard look at the many benefits of no-tilling.
Don and sons Adam and Jeff knew they needed to keep labor and machinery costs under control while taking good care of the soil. And no-till looked like the answer.
Today, the family’s Belmont, Wis., no-till operation includes 700 acres of corn and 660 acres of soybeans. They keep 25 beef cows to graze off stalks, raise hay and also operate a grain and hay trucking business.
In 1978, the family moved from a central Iowa dairy operation to Hamburg, Wis. In 1999, they sold the cows from the northern Wisconsin farm and purchased 462 acres in southwestern Wisconsin. Since that time, they’ve expanded to 1,450 acres with enough machinery and labor to no-till 2,500 acres.
“We previously tilled all our ground in Iowa and northern Wisconsin,” says Adam. “We tilled this ground the first year after moving down here, then shifted to no-till to save soil and to let us reduce the number of fields from an astounding 137 down to only 10 fields. With 137 fields, the end rows alone made up 30 percent of the total acreage. Thanks to no-till, it is now much easier to meet the government’s conservation plan requirements.”
When they submitted a no-till plan to the Natural Resource Conservation Service for conservation practice approval, Christensen says the NRCS staff was delighted.