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While there are certainly many concerns about no-tilling corn into cold and wet soils, it always seems to come back to the fear of reduced yields which keeps more farmers from giving this idea a try.
“Some people ask me if we had a yield drop when we switched to no-till,” says Dean Holst. “We didn’t. Our yields went up immediately.”
Sound strange? It shouldn’t. This no-tiller from Le Claire, Iowa, argues that ripping actually enhances no-till yields when it’s done right.
“There’s a major problem in soil tightness and that’s what needs to be addressed when you’re going to a no-till system,” he says.
To back up his claim, Holst points to a neighbor who switched to no-till. He read the books, talked to the right people and did everything as he was told; but his yields were significantly lower than when he was tilling conventionally. Had he ripped, Holst claims this “insurance” would have boosted his no-till yields.
“It still didn’t work because he didn’t take out his ‘insurance’ first,” he says. “The chemical man and I took kernel counts in that field because it looked so bad last year. The kernel count came out at 95 bushels per acre. We jumped the fence, walked onto my field and calculated it at 195 bushels per acre. Ripping works.”
Holst believes most no-tillers should probably avoid ripping in the spring, stating that his soils respond much better to fall ripping. Yet he’s…