Small Details Make Big Difference

Attention to detail in fertility placement, planting date, timing of applications and even no-till equipment weight definitely pay.

For Mike Guetterman, who farms 7,000 no-till acres with his father and brothers, small details make a big difference in the success of a continuous no-till program.

The Guetterman family has been actively no-tilling for 15 years in Bucyrus, Kan., and has found that paying close attention to detail in fertility placement, planting date, timing of applications and even equipment weight definitely pays off over the long haul.

The Guetterman brothers (Mike, Paul, Ted, Tom and Nick) no-till in an area of Kansas near the Missouri border that averages 30 inches of annual rainfall where a soybean, corn, grain sorghum and winter wheat rotation is common.

On good ground, the Guettermans follow a corn and soybean rotation. On poorer soils, they use some configuration of a no-till wheat, grain sorghum and soybean rotation — but they never end up no-tilling soybeans 2 years in a row.

No-till has allowed the Guettermans to reduce fuel, labor and weed control costs. “Some 20 years ago, before we started no-tilling, we used 7 1/2 gallons of fuel per acre. By using no-till, this has dropped to only 3 1/2 gallons per acre.

At last January’s 11th annual National No-Tillage Conference, the five brothers were selected as the 2003 No-Till Innovator Award winners for crop production. Co-sponsored by Syngenta Crop Protection and No-Till Farmer, this program honors outstanding individuals in several critical no-till categories.

Besides reducing fuel usage, no-till has also helped the family improve water quality. In 2000 for example, they showed the…

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