When it comes to recognizing the biggest breakthroughs in no-till, Keith Kemp says it has been an increase in soil organic matter, new hybrids and varieties, improved herbicides, decreased production costs and the use of several valuable seeding accessories.
The West Manchester, Ohio, farmer has been no-tilling since 1979 and has been 100 percent no-till on 1,500 acres of corn and soybeans since 1985. He told attendees at the recent Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference in Ada, Ohio, that no-till lets him devote more time to the farm’s hog operation.
Kemp says that you must increase your management ability with no-till. He’s convinced that switching to no-till because you can’t get things done on time or when it’s getting too late in the season aren’t the proper reasons to change.
“You need a plan and can’t go to no-till at the last minute and expect it to work,” he says. “For one thing, you’ve got to have a plan to eliminate compaction concerns before you start no-tilling.”
Kemp credits no-till with reducing costs for weed control, fertility, labor and equipment. With improved soil quality, new corn hybrids and the benefits of using Bt hybrids for controlling European corn borer, he’s shifting to more continuous no-till corn. On much of his land, he’s no-tilling 2 years of corn followed by 1 year of no-tilled soybeans.
The biggest change Kemp has seen in no-tilled soils is the dramatic increase in organic matter. For the last 10…