When no-till came onto the U.S. farm scene in the 1960s, there was plenty of interest, but it soon gave way to frustration as farmers struggled with the challenges of implementing a new agricultural system.
Cutting through the residue, closing the furrow and getting even emergence was difficult before the advent of no-till drills and attachments that helped farmers deal with tougher planting and seeding conditions.
Weed control was clearly crucial to success in no-till. Not only was there a shortage of chemistries in the early days of no-till, spraying herbicides over large numbers of acres was difficult until better spray equipment came along.
As no-till matured with the help of new equipment tailored for their needs, farmers have more recently turned their attention to making no-till systems even better with precision technology. GPS-based systems help no-tillers apply fertilizer only where it’s needed, avoid double-planting in end rows or prevent costly chemical overlapping.
The advancements in technology became extremely valuable for no-tillers as fuel prices and input costs skyrocketed and environmental scrutiny of ag practices increased. Better technology also helped no-tillers get more out of every acre when grain prices were depressed.
And technology continues to evolve before our eyes, particularly with the handling of corn residue from today’s newer Bt hybrids. Chopping corn heads, innovative knife rolls and spreaders are helping no-tillers process residue so it can break down more quickly and be distributed evenly in the field.
Following is a look at some of the equipment developments throughout…