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Fertility is First Priority for No-Tillers

Rather than hit new technology head-on, these Nebraska no-tillers found it pays to concentrate on just one area at a time.

With 2,400 hogs, 1,000 acres of crops, 100 yearling steers and a Vermeer hay equipment business, Kurt and Gordon Ohnoutka could be described as the gurus of farm enterprise management.

The Valparaiso, Neb., no-tillers know what they can and can’t handle. They also know a good opportunity from a bad one.

After switching to no-till in 1990, the Ohnoutkas were able to devote more attention to other areas of their farm thanks to no-till’s labor savings. It was the right choice.

While the father-and-son team is enjoying no-till success, the Ohnoutkas are still exploring many new opportunities.

If you ask any farmer what agriculture’s up-and-coming trends are, he will probably put precision farming near the top of the list. The Ohnoutkas see precision farming as a future opportunity, but it’s not in their short-term plans. Instead, they are focusing on increasing their soil-fertility levels.

“If you do too many things at one time, you don’t do anything right,” says Kurt. “We’re taking it one step at a time. We’ll probably start precision farming within the next three years.

“However, we have to keep watching technology. If we don’t eventually use precision-farming technology, we’ll probably get left behind.”

Lime Concerns

To meet their goal of increasing soil fertility, the Ohnoutkas are taking soil samples and applying fertilizer according to their soil testing lab’s recommendations.

“One problem we’re seeing is that our soil pH is low,” says Kurt. “We haven’t limed for quite some time and the pH is into the low…

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