When it comes to finding new yield-boosting and cost-cutting no-tilling or direct seeding ideas, nothing beats talking with farmers who’ve already made these systems work effectively.
When the Wittman family decided to switch to no-till, their major goal was to curb costly soil erosion.
Still another goal was to increase labor efficiency by spending less time on the tractor plowing under stubble and working up a level seedbed in their 6,900 acre Lapwai, Idaho, operation. By doing this, they reduced tractor hours, had less equipment wear and sharply trimmed fuel consumption.
Todd Wittman indicates that the family also earned a number of “freebies” by shifting to direct seeding. These included an increase in soil organic matter, better soil porosity and improved water infiltration. In turn, this has reduced surface crusting after heavy spring rains and resulted in less winter frost heaving since the soils aren’t saturated with moisture.
By adding new crops and developing new no-till crop rotations, they’ve also been able to break up the life cycles of several soil-borne diseases.
Wittman stresses four key points for successful no-tilling:
The first thing is to choose rotations that let you no-till into previous crop residue without any difficulty. He recommends that you watch for problems that can develop when recropping cereals if you can’t get a good spraying job or winter kill with volunteer grains.
Wittman says it’s essential to spread chaff and straw as evenly as possible when harvesting high residue…