What I've Learned From No-Tilling: Never Look Back With No-Till

No-till’s impact on the environment will last for many generations to come.

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Name: James O. Andrew

Title: 10-Year No-Tiller and Nitrogen Management Innovator

Location: Jefferson, Iowa

Number Of Years No-Tilling: 10

Acres: 1,350 No-Tilled Crops: Corn and soybeans

When i started no-tilling, I felt a renewed sense of energy and excitement about farming. I’m guessing a lot of fledgling no-tillers get that same feeling.

After I came back to the farm in 1974, my father taught me everything he knew about production agriculture. He was a very good farmer and teacher, but it was basically the same approach to farming that had been applied to our land for nearly a century.

Over time, my dad, James H. Andrew and grandfather, Norman H. Andrew and I evolved to some minimum-tillage conservation farming practices, switching totally away from moldboard to chisel plows in 1980. But, when we made the major shift to no-till in 1993, we were moving into uncharted territory, and felt like real explorers.

We spent 3 years reading, evaluating, and listening to people like early no-tiller Jim Kinsella before we felt comfortable making the commitment. We considered Kinsella’s handbook our no-till bible. Two primary factors finally tipped the scales. Good farm labor was getting scarce. And we were still losing too much soil to water and wind, even though we had tiled and terraced our highly erodible fields.

DON‘T LOOK BACK

Once we decided to go to all no-till, we burned our bridges so that we couldn’t go back to disturbing the soil even if we wanted to…

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Ron Ross

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