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While No-Tillers have long been among the leaders in sustainable agriculture, Gyles Randall is convinced that many no-tillers need to consider growing more than just corn and soybeans.
The soil scientist at the Southern Research and Outreach Center of the University of Minnesota in Waseca, Minn., sees serious problems with corn and soybean rotations in southern Minnesota. In fact, he questions whether this intensive rotation is even sustainable when you look at it from an economic, environmental, ecological and sociological perspective.
A number of no-tillers and researchers in recent years have been extolling the benefits of expanding rotations for long-term no-till success. Yet a concern has been that other crops haven’t proven as profitable even with low corn and soybeans prices.
Another concern is that some diversified rotations include crops that are more suited for livestock producers. Yet some speciality cash crops could be added to many no-till rotations.
In 30 years as a soil scientist, Randall maintains that he’s never seen so much soil erosion in south central and southeastern Minnesota as during the past few years. He attributes much of the problem to a tremendous increase in soybean acres at the expense of growing fewer acres of alfalfa, pasture and small grains.
Randall says this shift to more soybeans has been accompanied by: