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Dean Holst, who no-tills 1,700 acres in the hilly, but productive area near LeClaire, Iowa, has made the switch back to 30-inch row corn. For several years, Holst had no-tilled in 24-inch rows.
One of the main reasons for the switch in row widths is that Holst is returning to no-tilling continuous corn from a corn and soybean rotation on some of his acreage.
The no-tiller believes that alternating no-till corn and soybeans every year was reducing his yields. He says the reason is that soybeans deplete potash and high potash levels, two elements that earned high yield awards for Herman Warsaw from Illinois and Francis Childs from Iowa while setting them apart from others.
“They enjoyed soluble potash levels pushing 1,000. We get this from continuous corn,” says Holst.
The other factor that helped the now deceased Warsaw and Childs consistently achieve 300 bushel per acre yields is high organic matter, says Holst. The two farmers increased their organic matter from 2 percent up to as much as 8 percent.
“You must produce enough organic matter to produce higher yields,” says Holst. “Organic matter produces higher yields.”
Using these ideas, Holst is moving to a no-till rotation of 2 years of corn followed by 1 year of soybeans. Because of the new rotation, Holst questions how he could no-till 24-inch row corn into 220 bushel per acre residue year in and year out. He asks, “How do you plant into extremely heavy residues?”