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What I've Learned From No-Tilling: A Permanent No-Till Is The Only Way to Go!

Spending an extra $12 per acre on fertilizer resulted in $60 to $80 more income with no-tilled corn.

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Name: Mike Wolpert

JOB: Operates Wolpert Farms, Inc., with wife, Dr. Jeanne K. Bailey

Location: Buffalo, W. VA.

Number Of Years In Permanent No-Tilling: 9

Acres: 1,300 To 2,200, depending on land leases

No-Tilled Crops: Corn, soybeans, Wheat and alfalfa

It took me almost 12 years to learn that you can’t dabble with no-tilling. You either have to commit 100 percent or forget about it.

In 1981, when I bought a John Deere 7000 planter, I had the dealer install no-till coulters. I wasn’t really sure why and as a result I didn’t make the required commitment. Over the next several years, no-till was hit and miss. It seemed like I’d be really successful no-tilling one year, but after the next crop I’d cuss it out and swear I was going back to plowing.

During a really wet season about 10 years ago, my wife watched as I tilled the muddy fields over and over. When she asked why I was beating the soil to death, I really didn’t have a good answer.

She challenged me to make no-till work. From her perspective, all the plowing, discing and other labor-intensive efforts it took for conventional farming just didn’t make sense. She maintained that we shouldn’t have to work the ground over and over to make it produce.

I started attending no-till meetings, talking to other no-tillers and doing a lot of reading. I was determined to learn why no-till worked great for me some years and not…

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Ron Ross

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