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Protecting Yields, Safeguarding The Environment

Frequent soil testing, timely applications and deep placement of fertilizer are some key practices for these nutrient-management stewards.

Onfarm research, equipment setups and deep placement of fertilizer are among the tools that helped three no-tillers improve their nutrient management and profitability on their farms, and also win admiration from their peers.

Bob Bottens of Cambridge, Ill., Donn Branton of Le Roy, N.Y., and Davis Sutherland of LeRoy, Kan., were honored with Responsible Nutrient Management Practitioner awards during the 20th annual National No-Tillage Conference held last January in St. Louis, Mo.

Below is a synopsis of their cutting-edge fertility programs, which were recognized by No-Till Farmer and Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers, the program’s sponsors.

Bob Bottens, Cambridge, Ill.

When they tried applying nitrogen with their planter, Cambridge, Ill., no-tiller Bob Bottens and his son, Monte, secretly hoped for poor results so they wouldn’t have to add extra hassle at planting. But they weren’t that lucky.

“The field we applied nitrogen to with the planter yielded far better than the fields that got anhydrous the previous fall,” Bottens says. “The next year, we dropped anhydrous and banded all of our nitrogen in 3-by-3-inch placement with the planter.”

Applying nutrients closer to the time plants need them is just one of many steps the Bottens have taken to refine their ever-changing fertility program.

Focus On Soil. Going no-till and pattern tiling their hilly, highly erodible ground were their first steps in keeping soil and nutrients in place.

They started dabbling in tiling, targeting draws first. But they soon noticed that while the draws were dry, the hillsides weren’t, so they evened it…

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