No-Till On The Rocks

When challenges come knocking, this no-tiller uses his keen sense and strategies to make sure they’re only temporary.

“There's nobody else that can do our job as no-tillers,” says Dick Lloyd. “We have to come up with our own solutions.”

He’s not kidding. No-tilling since 1977, the Lewiston, Idaho, no-tiller has gradually expanded from 150 to 1,500 no-tilled acres. And he’s seen his fair share of problems along the way.

Here’s how this veteran no-tiller and innovator makes the most of tricky situations:

1. Varying Soil Types

“We have everything from real tight, hard ground to practically ash soils,” he says. “Every 100 feet, we have something different.”

Since he can’t stop and adjust the no-till drill every time he comes across another soil type, Lloyd says he takes the “easy approach.”

“We use gauge wheels and packer wheels with enough weight to pack seed and fertilizer effectively,” he explains. “You can’t set a machine to run in two conditions, so pick a happy medium and go with it.”

2. Rocky Ground


Since he no-tills land that’s adjacent to and high above the Snake River, Lloyd says no-tilling over rocks is a serious concern. In some places, there are only 15 inches of soil on top of solid basalt, which is a fine-textured, solid rock.

“You need a rolling, disc-type opener,” Lloyd says. “One time a dealer brought over a Haybuster no-till drill with shanks. I pulled it for one-third of a mile, but it was obvious that it wouldn’t work.

“The no-till drill kept lifting rocks that were nearly out of the soil and mixed in the…

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