What I've Learned From No-Tilling: No-Till Crop Diversification Is The Key

Thanks to no-till, this grower doesn’t expect to ever till his soils again.

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Name: CRAIG STEHLY

Location: MITCHELL, S.D.

Number Of Years No-Tilling: 16

Acres: 10,000

No-Tilled Crops: Corn, soybeans, SPRING WHEAT, WINTER WHEAT

A strict no-till corn-and-soybean rotation leads you down a path to trouble. The more practical kind of diversity that you can work into your no-till system, the better.

A lack of diversity in our area around Mitchell, S.D., has led to extended diapause in corn rootworms, soybean cyst nematodes and lots of crop diseases. As a result, we’ve learned to always include either spring or winter wheat, or both, in our no-till rotations.

We’re evaluating a 6-year sequence that includes spring wheat, winter wheat, 2 years of corn and 2 years of soybeans, but of course it will take 12 years to go through the cycle twice to get a fair evaluation. So far, this cropping sequence appears to have many advantages with our 10,000-acre no-till operation. It gives us a 4-year break between various types of crops, so disease and soil insect pressure are minimal. And it lets us use a variety of herbicides without causing crop interaction concerns.

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Seeing Is Believing

That’s what happened to us the first time we drove up to the Redfield, S.D., experiment station in 1988 where South Dakota State University agronomist Dwayne Beck did his early no-till work. It was a dry year and along the way we saw half-dead conventionally tilled beans. But when we pulled onto the research farm, we started seeing soybeans growing in wheat stubble…

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Ross_ron

Ron Ross

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