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What I've Learned From No-Tilling: Balanced Soil Is The Base For Strip-Till Success

When making farm-management decisions, second-generation strip-tiller Bill Darrington considers the impact on soil life and structure from every angle.

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NAME: Bill Darrington

LOCATION: Persia, Iowa

YEARS NO-TILLING: 30

ACRES: 1,000+

CROPS: Corn and Soybeans

The more I learn about farming, the more I’m impressed with the things my father did when he was more involved in the operation.

I can remember being 4 years old, riding in the back of the fertilizer spreader with a shovel, kicking powdered gypsum through the spreader. I also remember Mom chewing Dad out about that.

Other than farm safety, though, my father was doing a lot of the right things for the farm, such as no-tilling and applying gypsum, even if he didn’t fully understand why they were right.

I go to a lot of seminars and try to be truly aggressive about understanding and improving what we’re doing in producing crops and food. I enjoy driving down the road and windshield-scouting my fields and neighboring fields for nutrient deficiencies and other management issues.

One thing’s for sure: If the soil is sick and deficient, you’ll struggle to be a profitable farmer. Building healthy soil is the basis for our success. I learn how to do that by self-educating and attending conferences — even those not geared toward corn and soybean production.

Challenging Terrain

My father started no-tilling and strip-tilling in the late 1960s and it’s the only process I’ve known. Conservation tillage is really the only option for our conditions, and that is what I’ve practiced since I became actively involved in the operation in 1987.

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Our farm is…

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Martha Mintz

Contributing Editor

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