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Pesticides and fertilizer are such key components for successful no-tillage that Merlin Jones wants to be prepared for a worst-case scenario of tighter restrictions by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“I don’t want Washington telling me what I can put on my farm, but I want to be prepared if it comes to that,” explains the Minden, Iowa, no-tiller.
This type of forward planning is typical of Jones’ management strategy. He successfully no-tills 1,200 acres of corn and soybeans by educating himself, developing cropping strategies and creating alternate plans.
All the attention the press is giving to pollution, such as the hypoxic area in the Gulf of Mexico has caused Jones to take a close look at nitrogen management.
He recently developed an on-farm test to compare applying 60 pounds of 28-percent nitrogen in early spring as a herbicide carrier and 90 pounds of nitrogen 3 inches to the side of the seed at planting vs. a split nitrogen rate of 120 pounds of nitrogen with N- Serve in the fall and 30 pounds of nitrogen at planting.
“My goal is to find how to best position my nitrogen and maybe to get by with lower nitrogen rates so there’s less leaching,” says Jones. “My belief is to take a proactive approach so hopefully we can reduce this problem (hypoxia) without government intervention.”
Although Jones believes agriculture may be partially responsible for the pollution leading to the creation of the dead zone in the Gulf…