Making No-Till Corn Work

Combining several strategies helps make no-till yield as well as conventional corn.

Jan Layman never expected to be a die-hard no-tiller. “I never thought I’d be preaching the evangelism of no-till. I enjoyed working the ground,” admits Layman of Kenton, Ohio.

But Layman had a change of heart in 1988 when he saw his neighbor’s no-till soybeans survive a drought while his conventional crop didn’t even emerge. That’s when Layman decided to learn how to no-till.

Another reason that no-till looked more enticing to Layman was the labor saving as as he increased his acreage from 500 to 1,500 acres in 15 years. In 2003, he’ll no-till 1,650 acres of corn and 1,330 of soybeans.

Layman started no tilling corn in 1984. He experimented through the years and became 100 percent no-till in 1994. At the same time, he traded in his Steiger tractor and 30-foot field cultivator for a John Deere 750 no-till drill.

Layman finds sticking with no-till and combining several strategies helps make no-till corn yield as well as conventional. His corn yields now average 145 bushels per acre.

“We have some of the best and some of the poorest ground in the county,” Layman says about his acreage that stretches 10 miles from one end to the other. The farm where he has lived for 18 years had a 97-bushel average under the previous ASCS government yield base.

“Years ago we fall plowed and had chunks of dirt the size of our heads,” says the no-till corn and soybean grower. “If we have a disaster in no-till corn…

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