Well-Equipped To Talk Weather

How much moisture does no-tilling conserve? Will no-tilling practices overcome compaction concerns? The voice of experience offers answers.

Equipment choices might be the most common subject among no-tillers. Or maybe it’s the weather. Or maybe how the weather changes soil conditions, and thus equipment choices. Whatever, it’s all covered in these excerpts from recent postings at Farmer’s Forum, the online bulletin board at www.no-tillfarmer.com.

Saving Moisture Through No-Tilling

This has been on my mind for almost a year now. How much moisture is saved by no-tilling versus a conventional tillage system? Does the conventional field need an inch more of rain to equal a no-till field, or 2 inches more?



Extension agronomists in Kansas tell us that no-till crops will last about 2 weeks longer than conventional tillage crops in an extended drought.



I believe I read an article the other day from Cornell University that suggested that no-till could save about 2 inches of rain.



I have a field in which I no-tilled corn into wheat stubble, and the neighboring field was planted into bean stubble that was field cultivated only once prior to planting. It stopped raining just prior to tasseling, and the temperature rose to the mid-90s. His corn was stressing 6 to 7 days before mine. My soils are silty clay loam and very shallow.

I think I’ve seen research by Kansas State University that found you lose about a half-inch of moisture with each tillage pass.

No-till is about more than just saving moisture. Good rotations, proper residue management and building up good soil structure are important…

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