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Heavy clay loam soils and cold, wet springtime soil conditions have caused Ed and Jim Myer to tailor a conservation program that meets their farm operation’s challenging characteristics.
“I know some no-tillers will argue with me on this, but we’ve found that a minimal amount of tillage isn’t all bad,” says Ed, who sometimes discs soil in the spring before planting corn if the soil conditions aren’t optimal for no-tillage. “I’m not suggesting that everyone should go out and disc. There are so many variables that change from farm to farm. This is just the system that works for us.”
Farming together since 1973, brothers Ed and Jim began no-tilling in 1983 on their Logan, Iowa, farm. With steep slopes and rolling hills, no-till was essential in order to stay in compliance with government erosion requirements. This isn’t as critical a concern today because their 1,800 acres of corn and soybean ground is almost completely terraced. No-tillage is still a good practice, but not as essential as it was before terracing.
“The erosion benefits of no-till are really significant,” says Ed. “We see very little soil movement in no-till fields. As a general rule, you’ll always have more washing in the disced fields.” That’s why the Myers only lightly disc soybean stubble on some ground before planting corn. “We leave all our residue on the ground until we are ready to plant,” Ed explains. “Then we give it a real light discing at a…