Expand No-Till Rotations

Under the Freedom To Farm Act, Keith Glewen has noticed no-tillers are starting to diversify more with the crops they grow. “When the new government laws were passed, these farmers were concerned about seeing the day when we’ll have mountains of grain and that day has come,” says the University of Nebraska educator.

Yet Glewen knows it’s easy for no-tillers to stick with the corn-and-soybean rotation mentality. But he also sees the day coming when no-tillers will have to find new crops to stay profitable.

Lots of New Cropping Options

The key problem is finding an economical third crop to add to no-till rotations. Although alfalfa is labor intensive, Glewen likes this crop because it’s profitable and provides needed cover for soil protection.

Wheat is another option, but Glewen says the economics aren’t there. For wheat be to be competitive with soybeans in a no-till rotation, he estimates no-tillers need a minimum yield of 70 bushels per acre and a price of at least $3.70 per bushel.

New Ideas

Out in Kansas, Keith and Doug Thompson are giving relay intercropping a try along with double-cropping. The Osage, Kan., no-tillers sum up the potential in a few key words: “Right now with the current farm crisis, it’s a way to consistently get our farm income up,” says Keith.

While they’ve double-cropped no-till soybeans behind wheat for a number of years, the brothers also no-till soybeans into wheat during the first week of April before the crop reaches the joint stage.

The…

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Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

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