LESS IS MORE. At Kelly Johnsonâ??s no-till farm in Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, everything is done in one pass. â??One tank will have seed and the other tank will have dry phosphate,â?? he says. â??Then we apply nitrogen and sulphur in a liquid form.â?? This, Johnson says, helps reduce soil compaction and keeps labor and machinery costs to a minimum.

Rooting Around

This Canadian no-tiller uses his farm as a “test-plot” for deciding what works and what doesn’t.

Kelly Johnson doesn’t claim to be a no-till researcher. But the customers at his fertilizer dealership may beg to differ.

That’s because this Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, no-tiller uses his farm to do his own “field tests” that carry valuable information to customers that otherwise would cost them money. And it’s proven to be a successful arrangement.

But Johnson didn’t always start out this way. In fact, he was conventionally farming until one dry year back in ‘83.

“We had a dry, dry spring,” he says. “We had to re-seed, since the wind literally blew the seed right out of the ground. So I vowed it would never happen again.”

Part of that vow for Johnson was the incorporation of no-till into his farming operation. And he’ll never go back.

“Since then, erosion has been reduced by 90 percent,” he explains. “The things I don’t like to give away are topsoil and water. I like to keep all the water that the good Lord gives me on my farm.”

Direct Seeding

To overcome the challenge of a constant wind speed of 11 mph and only 115 frost-free days a year, Johnson looked at direct seeding and found it was well worth his while.

“We direct seed everything,” he says. “The first thing we do is go into a stubble crop and use high-clearance sprayers to spray Roundup. We’ll use a half-pint as a pre-seed burndown.”

Next, Johnson uses a Concord drill to finish the job.

“We do everything in one pass,” he…

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