No-Till And Cover Crops Stretch Both Ends Of The Growing Season

When vegetable processors saw no-till yields were consistent and harvesting conditions were better than in conventionally-tilled fields, they came around to this veteran no-tiller’s way of thinking.

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Name: Allen Brooks

Location: Markesan, Wis.

Number Of Years No-Tilling: 19

Acres: 2,400; About 400 Acres Double-Cropped.

No-Tilled Crops: Sweet Corn, Canning Peas, Snap Beans, Barley, Winter Wheat, Soybeans, Field Corn

We&Rsquo;ve been no-tilling for nearly 20 years, but the history of conservation on our vegetable farm goes back to the mid ’60s. That’s when we first walked away from the moldboard plow.

My father, Gil Brooks, pioneered a reduced-till farming system in the 1960s that kept the ground covered year around with residue or a living crop. Our operation was first featured in No-Till Farmer in January 1973.

He believed strongly in protecting topsoil for future generations, and he understood the economic advantages of saving trips across the field. Dad taught me the wisdom of utilizing as much sunlight energy as possible to create organic matter both above and below ground. The root mass in the soil that you can’t see provides many natural benefits over time. We’ve been modifying that system, getting further away from tillage, ever since.


As contract vegetable growers, we share field operations with processors. We provide land, planting equipment, weed control and irrigation; the processor harvests the crop. Planting and harvest dates are scheduled throughout the area to assure a uniform flow of high-quality product from the field.


Anything we can do to widen our planting and harvest windows is a plus. That’s where no-till and cover crops play a key role at both ends of the season. Thanks…

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Ross ron

Ron Ross

Ron Ross pioneered the “What I’ve Learned from No-Tilling” series that has appeared in every issue of No-Till Farmer since August of 2002. He authored more than 100 of these articles.

A graduate of South Dakota State University’s agricultural journalism program, Ross spent most of his career as a writer and editor.

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