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40 Tips When No-Tilling in Drought

When it’s dry, take the advice of these four experienced National No-Tillage Conference speakers

One of the most popular — and useful — sessions at the 11th annual National No-Tillage Conference was a 50-minute panel discussion where four no-tillers presented their 40 best tips on how to deal with drought conditions.

Panel members included:

  • Joe Nester, a crop consultant with Nester Ag Management Company in Bryan, Ohio.
  • Scott Davidson, a 540-acre no-tiller from Bethany, Ill.
  • Duane Lange, a 1,400-acre no-tiller from Ord, Neb.
  • Joe Bradford, a U.S. Department of Agriculture scientist with the Agricultural Research Service in Weslaco, Texas.

1. Have Your Soils Well Balanced For Calcium And Magnesium Prior To A Drought

“Most failures of no-till are temperature and moisture related,” Nester says. “Calcium and magnesium have a profound effect on water infiltration rates, and, in turn, soil structure.”

He says it’s easier to heat air than it is water, so it’s imperative that your no-till soils are well balanced with calcium and magnesium.

2. Take Essential Steps To Increase Your No-Till Root Mass Development

Davidson suggests letting roots reach deep into your soil profile. On his farm, they don’t cut any no-till plant roots and it’s paid off.

3. After Harvest, Leave Stubble And Stalks Standing

By leaving the stalks standings, your fields will catch more snow and it’s a way to keep the wind from damaging your land, according to Lang.

“Stalks and stubble keep your soil warmer in the winter and cooler in the spring,” Lange says. “You’ve got to keep your soils cooler in the spring. If the soil…

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