Keith Thompson of Osage, Kan., was at his wits end. His family’s no-till operation just wasn’t up to par and he knew if something wasn’t done soon, something had to give.
“Nothing we tried seemed to work,” he says. The only people making money from our operation were the bank and chemical dealer.
“Then we realized we were aimlessly repeating the same process hoping for a different result year after year—which is Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity.”
But Thompson wasn’t insane—although his brother, Doug, father, Jim, and son, Ben, may have thought so when he showed interest in the story of a farmer who was intercropping beans into standing wheat with a conventional drill.
“I kept thinking, ‘This would be just perfect in no-till,’” Thompson says. “We decided to play around with planting times and see if it would fit into our no-till operation.”
So Thompson headed out to the field and assigned 20 of his 2,600 no-till acres to his intercropping idea.
That first year proved to be one of learning for Thompson. Not only did he learn to use Roundup Ready soybeans to cut chemical costs, but he learned important information about no-tilling times. Thompson, wanting to know as much as possible for himself, no-tilled relay soybeans at three different times.
“The first planting was when wheat was 2 or 3 inches tall,” he says. “It didn’t hurt the wheat at all. But the late planting knocked 15 bushels per acre off of the wheat…