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What I've Learned From No-Tilling: Using The Right Tools Brings No-Till Success

Doug Gronau believes technology can boost no-till profitability, but it must produce a quick return on investment.

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NAME: Doug Gronau

LOCATION: Denison, Iowa

YEARS NO-TILLING: 7

ACRES NO-TILLED: 1,200 acres

CROPS NO-TILLED: Corn and soybeans

Returning to no-till after a 30-plus year hiatus was really a homecoming for my family. My father no-tilled in the 1960s, but moved away from the practice due to the lack of mechanical and herbicide options we needed to make no-till work.

Today, there are more than enough tools to make no-till not only work, but really pay. I wanted to return to the practice for a long time, but the thing holding me back was my planter.

I tend to be a low-budget farmer and do things in the cheapest way possible. It would have been a fool’s errand to take my really old planter and spend a lot of money to fix it up for no-till. Instead, I waited until 2004, when it needed to be replaced. I was able to get a new Kinze no-till planter and put everything on it I needed to go no-till, and I haven’t looked back.

Don’t take what I’m saying the wrong way: I have decent equipment. I just don’t waste money. No matter how high commodity prices climb, there’s no excuse for being over-equipped. Everything needs to pay for itself.

At some point, things will get tough again. Being competitive through the good times will help your chances of surviving the tough times.

No-till is part of being economically competitive too, but I waited for the right time. Now…

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Martha Mintz

Contributing Editor

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