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When In Doubt, Improvise

Here’s what one no-tiller did when all other seeding options failed with a Conservation Reserve Program field.

AS NO-TILLERS, you’ve all had your share of problems. Your wheat is infested with grasshoppers. A windstorm just came through your corn fields. White mold is covering your soybeans.

For Mel Gerber of Versailles, Mo., it was rain.

“By the first of December, we had 73 inches of rain,” he says. “Our normal is 38 inches. It was impossible to no-till in a normal manner.”

But rain wasn’t the only problem. Last April, Gerber rented a field that was just released from the Conservation Reserve Program. “The field was a heavy sod with lots of mature stems and new leaves,” he says.

Rescuing Fallow Ground

Gerber started the process by spraying Roundup and AMS on the soil. Unfortunately, the wet ground prevented the four-wheel drive sprayer from doing its job.

“At one point, it got stuck and had to be rescued,” Gerber explains. “That was the beginning of the monsoon season. From then on, it just got wetter.”

The relentless rain was no match for the will of this no-tiller. Instead of letting the field lie fallow, Gerber sought out different, and perhaps unorthodox, options.

Testing No-Tilling Methods

“We began testing some unusual methods when early June arrived,” he says. “We asked several sources about flying beans on and were told our chances were one in ten if the rain continued and zero if it did not.”

Not thrilled about these odds, Gerber began seeking other answers.

“It all centered on getting the beans in contact with the ground and…

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