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No-tillers in Manitoba and North Dakota like variety. They know more than one market. They grow more than one crop. And every year, the view from the kitchen window changes.
These farmers know that rotating with alternative crops offers more than just a pretty sight and it can help improve the soil and pave the way for healthier crops in the future.
“As we prepare ourselves to launch into the 21st century, we find our farms operating on even smaller margins with rising input costs and increased risk,” explains Mike Zook, of Beach, N.D. “Many producers are searching for profitable alternatives.”
Zook explains that although the initial benefits of no-tilling were erosion control and water conservation, there wasn’t enough corn yield to make farming possible.
“As we find ourselves struggling with low cereal prices, many producers are searching for possible alternatives,” says Zook. “We feel the solution here is to look at the whole picture and make all of the crops in our system profitable.”
The Solution? Alternative crops seem to help conserve plant water and fertility while providing better yields. By slowly converting one field after another, it finally became clear to farmers that alternative crops can provide more than a different source of income—they improve the economy and the soil, making for healthier crops the next time around.
Here are some crop options that northern no-tillers are already using or working into no-till rotations.
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