Corn and soybeans. Soybeans and corn. To many no-tillers, these are the staple crops of their farming operations. But for the Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Western Canada regions, farmers often concentrate on small grains—proving that no-till works for other crops.
John D. Walker, agronomist at Ricks College, Rexburg, Idaho, shares some “must do” ideas for the next century of successfully no-tilling small grains.
“Banding” or whatever term you want to use has been the most important concept in making no-tillage or reduced tillage crop production work well consistently,” he says.
“The use of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and sulphur in a band or as many of these nutrients as you can buy in your area are extremely beneficial in guaranteeing a successful crop. I have often told my students that it’s worth about $10 for every minute you spend modifying your drills so they will band fertilizer at time of planting.”
Walker says the key to weed control is to keep as much crop stubble anchored to or on the ground as you can. This not only is a practical weed management tool, but an organic matter soil builder.
“In addition to all of the very fine herbicides that we have used over the years for broadleaf and grassy weed control, Monsanto’s new Maverick herbicide is a must for small grain production,” Walker explains.
“Cheatgrass or junegrass is the worst weed in the Pacific Northwest for small grain growers. This weed is a winter annual and there…