No-Till’s Still Number One!

Even though farmers have been no-tilling for 30 years, scientists are finding new reasons why no-till is the best way to boost your yields, improve the environment and protect precious soils.

Even though we’ve been hearing sporadic reports that a few farmers are parking their no-till equipment and going back to the disc, chisel plow and field cultivator, rest assured that you’re making the right decision.

With the adoption of no-till comes some distinct challenges:

Are the soils warm enough?

What do you do about excessive residue?

And what about crop rotations?

Paul Hay, an extension educator for the University of Nebraska in Beatrice, Neb., has heard all the concerns about no-tilling. While they’re justifiable, he maintains they offer ample no-till opportunities. So instead of stressing out about how to cope with these problems, he suggests turning these issues into no-till advantages.

“Crop rotations are changing along with farming practices,” he says. “In the 70s, most farmers in my part of the world were planting wheat and grain sorghum. Today it’s soybeans and corn. And we’ve learned an awful lot along the way.”

Back in 1980, farmers in the county raised 85,000 acres of wheat and 60,000 acres of grain sorghum. Due to farm program changes, the Conservation Reserve Program and economics, 35,000 acres of wheat, 60,000 acres of grain sorghum, 10,000 to 70,000 acres of dryland corn and 45,000 to 105,000 acres of soybeans are now grown each year.

Rather than coming up with extensive techniques and procedures to deal with the concerns that come with no-till, Hay says all it might require is a change in thinking.

As an example, here are a half dozen of the biggest concerns…

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