If you were in Des Moines for the National No-Tillage Conference, Dwayne Beck hopefully made you think seriously about possibly changing your no-till rotations.
The South Dakota State University agronomist and manager of the farmer-funded Dakota Lakes Research Farm at Pierre, S.D., maintains too many no-tillers simply follow the same rotations which they, their fathers and grandfathers formerly used with other types of tillage systems.
“Step up the intensity with no-till,” he says. “If you get into diverse rotations, you will make more efficient use of available water and definitely increase your no-till profitability.”
Instead of a 2-year corn and soybean rotation, Beck makes a good case for a 4-year Corn Belt rotation of corn, corn, soybeans and soybeans. He maintains that his rotation provides more flexibility, lowers weed control costs, offers fewer disease problems, reduces insect concerns and overcomes worries about growing weed resistance.
A major benefit is a reduction in herbicide costs and the fact that you only use the same herbicides every 4 years.
With first year no-tilled corn, Beck no-tills a normal hybrid and applies a high rate of atrazine for good weed control at a reasonable price.
With second year no-tilled corn, he no-tills a more expensive genetically modified Liberty Link corn hybrid which costs more than non-GMO hybrids. He treats the corn with Liberty to clean up weed problems and avoid atrazine carryover.
The third year, Beck no-tills conventionally bred soybean varieties and treats weeds…