Wet Or Dry, Zero-Till Sustains Diverse Canadian Prairie Farm

Two decades of zero-till has helped Ryan and Jim Nevin establish diverse rotations and handle weather challenges coming their way.

Twenty-five years ago, an extended dry cycle around Rapid City, Manitoba, prompted Ryan Nevin’s father to implement no-till. Now, in their area’s wettest cycle ever, no-till is still helping the Nevins “get it done.”

“When Dad started no-tilling in the 1980s to save moisture, pretty much everyone else here used traditional tillage,” Ryan says.

“His decision brought improved yields, reduce erosion, increased soil organic matter and lower input costs, all of which we still see today. With excess rain in the last couple of years, it takes time for soils to warm and dry, but no-till is still our best option.”

Challenging Terrain

Wheat, canola, peas, flax and occasionally proso millet make up Ryan’s crop rotation. Planting time frames range from as early as April 20 to as late as June 10. Typically, he plants around May and starts harvest by mid-August.

In an “average” year, the area sees around 10 inches of rain during the growing season and 4 to 5 feet of snow. Because the farm’s Newdale clay loam soils hold moisture, runoff erosion can occur — especially with traditional tillage.

“Undulating terrain” is how Ryan describes the landscape in his fields. Rock ridges are found in a few fields. Over the years, erosion between hills and hollows has caused concern.

“It’s a different kind of soil here,” he says. “Right in Rapid City we have some land that looks like a gravel pile, but we’ve raised 50-bushel wheat there. The wheat is only about a foot tall…

To view the full article, please subscribe or login.
 Premium content is for our Digital and Premium subscribers. Please purchase a subscription to get access to all No-Till Farmer content and archives.

Top Articles

Current Issue


No-Till Farmer

Get full access NOW to the most comprehensive, powerful and easy-to-use online resource for no-tillage practices. Just one good idea will pay for your subscription hundreds of times over.

View More

Must Read Free Eguides

Download these helpful knowledge building tools

View More
Top Directory Listings