Do The Math: No-Till Saves Money

Myron Wehr asks questions

Most recently, he’s asking about the right fertilization program for his 1,900-acre farm in New Waterford, Ohio, and the several hundred acres he no-tills and harvests for neighbors. So he’s hosting an Ohio State University research project comparing his regular nitrogen program with fall and spring applications, both broadcast and incorporated, of manure and nitrogen. The results favor incorporated manure.

But Wehr no longer questions whether there’s any advantage to no-tilling. To him, the answer is old hat — and bottom line.

“If you look at the average yields for 5 years, conventional tillage versus no-till, they’re going to be about equal,” he says. “But no-till will give you big savings in equipment and labor. And, to a point, you can be more timely with no-till. There are going to be a lot of producers out there doing tillage work in my area while I’m getting my crop in the ground. That’s going to give me a yield advantage over some growers.”

Wehr bases his answer on decades worth of experience. His first exposure to no-tilling came in the1960s, when Ohio State agronomists Glover Triplett and Dave VanDoren brought their original no-till planter to his father’s farm to plant corn. However, Wehr didn’t put away his moldboard plow until the mid-1970s, when he began chisel plowing in a minimum-tillage system. In the mid-80s, he started serious no-tilling.

Equipment Investment

Wehr changed no-till equipment as improvements came along, until about 1996 when he settled into the equipment…

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