'Don’t Quit No-Tilling For The Wrong Reasons'

Careful evaluation of your biggest yield-limiting factors can turn an unsuccessful no-till program into one that works.

Don’t talk about quitting no-till with Cliff Ramsier. He’s seen just about every problem and he’s heard every excuse. But he’s not buying any of them.

“The only reason for quitting no-till is if you’re retiring,” says Ramsier. “If you look at the economics in terms of labor savings, soil savings and environmental benefits, there just isn’t any reason for quitting.”

Top 10 List

Ramsier travels throughout the Midwest as technical director of Ag Spectrum, Inc., a research and development company specializing in fertilizers and plant nutrition. Over the years, the Milan, Ohio, based agronomist has listened to farmers complain about problems with no-till, threatening to change back to conventional tillage because of disappointing yields and an overall lack of “benefits” with no-till.

“I’ve heard so many complaints that I put together my own Dave Letterman-like top 10 list,” says Ramsier. “These are the top 10 reasons for quitting I hear most often.” (See the box below at right).

One Main Issue

None of the reasons mentioned in the “top 10 list” are reason enough to quit in Ramsier’s eyes.

“If you really think about it, the first seven reasons all boil down to one predominate issue—the soil’s ability to manage air and water,” says Ramsier. “The biggest yield-limiting factor in any corn and soybean rotation production system is air and water management.”

Assure Positive Drainage

This includes dealing with surface runoff and subsurface tiling to lower the water table so you don’t have water standing stagnant in the root…

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